Ford, Universal Pictures Launch Halloween VR Auto Experience

Consumers will get a taste of the future of in-car entertainment at Universal CityWalk Hollywood, where tech startup holoride, Ford and Universal Pictures are introducing a virtual reality (VR) experience inspired by the Bride of Frankenstein

Timed to coincide with Halloween, “Universal Monsters Presents: Bride of Frankenstein holoride” will be set inside new 2020 Ford Explorer vehicles where guests will be transported to the mysterious world of the Bride of Frankenstein. Riders will step inside the vehicle at the designated pickup location at Universal CityWalk, put on a VR headset and join the Bride of Frankenstein on her journey to deliver Frankenstein an important message. The fully immersive experience will feature virtual monsters and obstacles in addition to sound effects and visuals that match the movement of the car via navigational data from holoride.

“This collaboration allows us to showcase the promise of the connected vehicle and get essential customer feedback on what they want and don’t want in terms of immersive in-car entertainment experiences,” said Brett Wheatley, vice president of mobility marketing and growth at Ford.

VR ventures and augmented reality (AR) activations are nothing new for Universal Pictures. In 2018, the company launched a Jurassic World VR mini-series ahead of the release of the film’s latest franchise, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Called “Jurassic World: Blue,” the companion experience to the Jurassic series combined live-action and computer-generated imagery in 360-degree 3D. 

To promote the film, Universal Pictures also created promotional content for Facebook and Instagram using AR effects to bring Blue, the velociraptor, to life, accessible through a link in trailer descriptions. Generating further excitement were 3D posts on Facebook that let users interact with dinosaurs from all sides from a post in Facebook’s news feed. 

Ford has also been an early adopter of VR. In 2016, the auto company released a VR app for iOS and Android that lets consumers experience VR stories about Ford products, no headset mandatory. In 2017, Ford and Google partnered to launch a VR app called “Ford Reality Check” to reflect the fatal consequences of driving while distracted, based on research that shows young drivers feel the need to constantly check social media and stay in the loop with friends as a result of fear of missing out, also known as FOMO.

Why Beauty Brands Are Master Influencer Marketing Puppeteers

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.)

Sponsored makeup tutorials, all-expenses-paid trips around the world, experiential tech-driven pop-ups—beauty brands have feverishly adopted far-reaching influencer initiatives, from courting nano- to mega-influencers alike. The proof is all over social media feeds as well as in the numbers. 

Nearly 80 percent of beauty brands launch influencer marketing initiatives and 76 percent of those brands target millennials, according to a report by Launchmetrics. On that same note, a GlobalWebIndex study found in 2018 that 54 percent of female social media users in the US and UK were most likely to be following influencers in the beauty category. 

Industry wide, marketers are spending $8.5 billion on influencer marketing, but beauty influencer marketing dollars are especially surging to new heights as they continue to nurture these relationships. For example, in its second-quarter earnings call in August, Estée Lauder’s CEO, Fabrizio Freda, revealed that the brand is allocating 75 percent of its marketing budget to digital, specifically beauty influencers.

Now more than ever, beauty brands have more incentive to increase their influencer budgets due to the shopping habits of early adopters like Gen Z and Gen X. According to a CivicScience study, almost two-thirds of US Internet users who reported buying a product after seeing an influencer use it were younger than 34 and over half the group was under 25. 

Given these generations search for and discover new products on social first, brands count on influencers to help build brand awareness and create meaningful connections with audiences. To understand the scope of the beauty industry’s involvement in influencer marketing is to examine their activations.

The nature of beauty in itself is conducive to the success of influencer marketing. What better way to demonstrate the glistening, toning or straightening effects of a product or tool than by enlisting a well-liked social media figure to create a video in real time? 

An influencer’s audience is already primed for and interested in the products they display making it easier for influencers to simultaneously form an authentic connection with their followers and deepen the consumers’ interest to the product or brand. While brands are big on sponsored posts, in recent years they’ve gone beyond the norm to fuse consumer experiences with influencer-led activations. MAC, Shiseido, Estèe Lauder, Sephora and E.l.f. Cosmetics are examples of brands that have utilized influencers to generate buzz around products and events in the hopes of creating value for consumers and thereby driving sales.

In a recent unexpected move, MAC created a cosmetics booth at TwitchCon San Diego last month. The 20-foot-by-30-foot booth stuck out like a sore thumb among video game and energy drinks vendors, but MAC knows what it’s doing: reaching the female gaming community, who make up 45 percent of US gamers. The tie-in doesn’t sound so odd when you consider MAC has been courting Twitch influencers Pokimane and KittyPlays who have 3.4 million and 1.1 million followers, respectively. The booth was open all three days of TwitchCon and featured makeup application services and giveaways as well as a master class on “stream-ready makeup.” According to Glossy, part of the success of MAC’s presence there was centered on the hashtag #macattwitchcon.

Influencers with big audiences don’t necessarily translate to sales. In fact, many beauty brands are tapping micro-influencers who have a small but engaged following. While Estée Lauder has been known to recruit ambassadors like Kendall Jenner, the brand has also worked with micro-influencers on YouTube and Instagram. A campaign from Jo Malone London, one of the 29 brands Estée Lauder owns, reflects the value brands see in micro-influencers. For its “Declare Your Scent” fragrance campaign, the brand focused on authentic storytelling through nano influencers who they knew were already advocates of Jo Malone London. This was in part due to the personal nature of fragrance

Sephora took a unique approach to influencer marketing by crowdsourcing influencers for its new #SephoraSquad influencer marketing program launched this year. In search of 24 influencers, Sephora held an online contest that drew 16,000 applicants and required testimonials from applicants’ social media followers of which the brand received 250,000. Sephora signed yearlong contracts with the 24 chosen influencers with payment for participation and opportunities for coaching, early access to Sephora products and access to beauty industry experts. Sephora timed the influencer initiative accordingly as it plans to open 35 new US stores in 2019 including Seattle, Palm Springs, Brooklyn and Washington D.C.

In 2018, Shiseido removed all existing makeup from retail stores and its site to launch a new color cosmetic line. The goal? Overhaul the brand and more importantly, appeal to a younger audience. Additionally, the Japanese beauty brand also upped its spend on influencer marketing in the last year and a half during which the brand has orchestrated six influencer trips. To help continue these outings, Shiseido increased its influencer marketing budget by 50 percent in 2019. 

Eighty-nine percent of US marketers said they deem Instagram as the most critical social media platform for influencer marketing in 2019 and one-third of Instagram posts containing #ad was a story. Instagram and YouTube may house most beauty influencer initiatives, but some brands are slowly starting to test activations on emerging platforms to capture the attention of Gen Z. For example, E.l.f. Cosmetics recently launched a branded hashtag challenge on TikTok called #eyeslipface to an original song. Though it didn’t feature a creator from the TikTok platform. E.l.f. said the challenge will kickstart the brand into having daily content on the platform. Given the influencer marketing success that music and lifestyle brands have experienced on TikTok, this could mean E.l.f. is gearing up for TikTok influencer partnerships to showcase its products. 

Driving Culture And Embracing Periods Of Transformation With Smirnoff’s Jay Sethi

Jay Sethi is the brand marketing lead for Smirnoff, the largest and most important name in Diageo’s family of drinks brands. We sat down at Advertising Week NY to talk about his experiences in marketing, the importance of risk-taking when it comes to shifting perceptions and why consumer brands must always be at the forefront of change.

What does it take to look after one of America’s most iconic brands? As you may have read last week, Smirnoff is one of the undisputed giants of the drinks industry and for over 150 years, it’s iconic red and white bottles have held the crown as the number one vodka brand in the world.

Introduced to America in 1933, when exiled Tzarist distiller Vladimir Smirnoff sold the US rights to his vodka to fellow Russian émigré Rudolph Kunett, the brand has embedded itself into the fabric of drinks culture and has turned a nation of avowed whiskey lovers into loyal vodka drinkers. 

Throughout its eighty years on our shores, the brand has grown to become one of our most recognized consumer brands. Not only does it regularly outdo more expensive competitors in taste-tests, but it also fueled America’s long love affair with the cocktail; popularizing the Screwdriver and Bloody Mary as well as LA’s first signature cocktail, the Moscow Mule. It even managed to return home, reportedly becoming the illicit brand of choice for Soviet soldiers just prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain.

“Brands change all the time—it’s only the values that should stay the same.” Smirnoff’s Jay Sethi discusses his brand’s commitment to purpose.

Taken just as a brand, Smirnoff’s heritage is undeniable, and since 2016 the person in charge of its safe-keeping has been Jay Sethi. Recently named CMO at the Diageo Beer Company, until September, he was vice president, brand marketing for Smirnoff and emerging brands where he infused his strong passion for inclusion and diversity into the brand. 

With a track-record when it comes to transforming large, legacy brands through digital, retail, media and entertainment marketing he has been the driving force behind many of the company’s iconic campaigns of recent times; including the award-winning “Love Wins” and the recentWelcome to the Fun%” and ‘Welcome Home’ activations headed up by Laverne Cox.

We caught up with Sethi at Advertising Week NY to discuss his work with the brand and how he helped to reinvigorate Smirnoff and reconnect it with its founding sense of inclusivity and purpose.

What was your introduction to marketing?

Y’know, I didn’t really know what marketing was for quite a long time. I jokingly describe myself as a millennial, multicultural Midwesterner and it wasn’t something that ever came up. After graduating from the University of Chicago, I ended up working in politics for a little bit before I was lucky enough to land a job on the marketing team at Procter & Gamble.

Let me tell you, that role really changed my career. One of the blessings of that experience is that I got to see America. Now that I run one of the big, iconic American brands, I think traveling around so much gave me the experience to be able to understand the country.

What value does marketing bring to Smirnoff?

Smirnoff has been around for 150 years, and I really see myself as a steward of that brand. I have to leave it better than I found it; so I think the marketing team adds value not only by pushing forward the values that we’ve held for a long time but also by leaving a mark and driving our agenda forward.

I also think diversity and inclusion are important—not only for Smirnoff but for the industry as a whole. There are still levels of under-representation that we need to tackle, and I think my role and the choices that my team and I are making, are also helping to push that side of the conversation forward as well.

The idea that marketing needs to look like the people it serves is something you hear a lot.

Exactly. I might be of mixed heritage and gay, but often, my Midwestern-ness is the most unique perspective that I can offer. I love living in New York, but we need to remember that we market to the country as a whole, and I’m proud to be able to represent different communities. 

Marketers talk about intersectionality a lot, but that’s because it’s our job to bring communities together. We have to have the courage to do this kind of work and create these spaces where people can come together.

What are the main challenges when it comes to managing the Smirnoff brand? Is it hard to be nimble when you have so much brand heritage to look after?

If you manage to survive 150 years—my friend, I think you’ve shifted quite a bit. This is a brand that has gone through a lot, such as wars, economic collapses, you name it. But that also means that Smirnoff as a brand is fundamentally strong. It has always been able to shift to reflect American culture. 

We were the first to bring vodka to the US. The first great American cocktail, for example, was the Moscow Mule and we helped to invent it. A couple of decades after that we introduced flavored vodka to America and, boy, did that explode. 

Today’s generation is more focused on leading healthier, more holistic lifestyles, and it’s my responsibility to ensure that we reflect that. So, for example, we’ve just begun to roll out a zero sugar line. On the other hand, we’re just seeing the beginnings of a seltzer craze, and we’ll no doubt be a big part of that also. 

Working on a brand like this, you need to be able to embrace these periods of transformation. Being the biggest often means we’re able to drive culture forward in a way most other brands can’t.

Do you think that a lot of brand managers are almost too respectful with the brands that they represent?

It’s true that a lot of marketers at legacy brands are indeed afraid of change, but I think if they look in their archives, they’ll find that brands change all the time. It’s only the values that stay the same. It’s like the saying goes: “Often the fruit is in the root.”

For me, knowing the heritage of the product gives me the power and courage to be able to make changes. And, at the moment at least, I don’t think we have a choice. We are living in a great age of disruption and consumers are starting to look more closely at the products that they buy. One of the significant parts of this has been the rise of purpose, and the public at large are looking for brands that can be authentic allies and remain true to their values.

In a nutshell, how does Smirnoff’s brand today reflect the company’s values?

I think it comes in two parts. First, our accessibility. Smirnoff has always been an affordably priced vodka. We may compete with some of the most expensive vodka brands in the world, but by principle, we don’t charge more. We want as many people as possible to be able to enjoy our product, and we believe that everyone should be able to.

The other half is through our marketing and how we express ourselves. That’s why our commitment to hiring a diverse set of characters is so important. By being everywhere and showing everyone, the audience can really think, “finally here’s a brand that gets us.”

Part of that commitment has been Smirnoff’s long-standing support of the LGBTQIA+ community. Could you tell us about your experiences working on this project?

I think first and foremost, our support for the community goes back decades. I always say to my team if they dared to do that then, then we must have the courage to think that big now.  

Our values mean that Smirnoff has always been an accessible, inclusive brand. We serve over 50 million people in the US alone, so almost by definition, we have to be inclusive. We serve every income bracket, every age, every race and every gender. That gives us a responsibility to really help move LGBTQIA+ rights forward. But we also need to do it in a way that almost everyone in America can applaud and feel good about. 

On a personal level, I’ve also been going through my own coming-out process. It’s been extremely difficult at times—as I mentioned, I’m a Midwestern kid; my mom is Mexican catholic, and my dad is Indian Hindu, and both are of fairly conservative backgrounds. But overwhelmingly it’s been a very positive experience.

Smirnoff’s recent campaigns with Laverne Cox positively reflect the brand’s inclusive purpose. How did the partnership come about?

Mainly because Laverne is so great. We didn’t hire Laverne because she’s an activist or a trans woman, we hired her because she’s accomplished and funny and humble—values that we cherish as a brand.

What I’m most proud about is the fact that she not only fronts our PRIDE campaign, but she’s also the star of our ad campaign all year round. We just got our test scores back actually, which are very important in the industry to make sure that the work we put out is effective and it turns out that we’re in the top 5 percent of industry advertising. I think that says so much about America’s progress as a nation. Regardless of who she is, her character is just so fantastic. The relatability between her and the brand is so strong that people just love the work. That says a lot.

How has working with Laverne made you reassess brand purpose as part of Smirnoff’s messaging? 

It’s true to say we are definitively taking a step forward in this space and it’s also true to say that it’s working. We’re really excited by the direction we’ve been heading in with our recent creative campaigns, and for that reason, you’ll be seeing a whole lot more of it. 

I think it’s also a testament to the time we’re living in. It’s a time when you need to stand up for your values and demonstrate that they can be real allies. We’re proud to be able to carry the mantle. We’re the world’s number one vodka brand, if we can’t do that, then I think it makes it so much harder for other people to be able to do the same.

Diageo, in general, invests heavily in spokespeople to represent their brands. Could you give us an insight into the process you have for choosing talent?

It’s certainly true that if you go back into our archive, you’ll find that we’ve partnered with celebrities throughout our history. It’s one of the ways that we demonstrate that we’re a big, popular brand. 

We always try to partner with folks who embody our values like accomplishment and humility, but with a little bit of wink. It’s the reason we work with Laverne, but it’s also why we’ve worked with Ted Danson. If there were a checklist for people when it comes to representing Smirnoff—then it would be a person who is, on the one hand, successful and accomplished, but who is also down-to-earth and is just like us.

How Brands Are Successfully Engaging Consumers Beyond Paid Facebook And Instagram Ads

New research from Socialbakers shows that Instagram and Facebook dominate the paid social landscape. According to its “Must-Know Social Trends for Q2 2019,” more than 60 percent of ad spend is allocated to Facebook’s news feed rather than being diversified across Instagram feed, stories, suggested video and in-stream placements. 

This is the case even despite marketers increasing their overall spend on Instagram. The findings also show that mobile remains a paramount platform for brands and that influencer marketing continues to surge. Here we’re taking a closer look at the role Facebook and Instagram play in paid social activations and how brands are targeting consumers on a variety of other social platforms that have gained significant traction.

If Instagram and Facebook are the two most popular paid social platforms then influencers are the stars of the show. Socialbaker analyzed over 3 million influencer profiles and found that the number of Instagram influencers affiliated with brands who made posts using #ad increased by 33 percent compared to Q2 2018. That number is expected to surge. According to Business Insider Intelligence estimates, brands are set to spend up to $15 billion on influencer marketing by 2022. Amazon is also deepening its influencer marketing efforts with new influencer storefronts. Building on its Amazon influencer program, launched in 2017, the storefront lets influencers link directly to Amazon through channels where hyperlinking a URL isn’t possible. 

The two highest click-through rates (CTR) for brand accounts are on Facebook ad placement, with 1.7 percent clicking through on the news feed and over 0.75 percent clicking a suggested video. Comparatively, for Instagram feed and stories, the number is 0.25 percent or below. Carousel is the leading format for organic interactions on Instagram while it’s the live feature for Facebook. All factors considered, Facebook seems to be the top choice for marketers given the platform moves users from social to web, and ultimately, offers a user experience that leads to lower costs.

When brands put all their eggs in one basket, namely by advertising to everyone, they’re using a blanket strategy. Brands who lack paid social media diversification and employ blanket ads could potentially see less acquisition and conversion in the long run because those ads fail to micro-target niche groups or personalize messages based on consumers’ self-identified interests. Maximizing cross-channel visibility and focusing on paid social media optimization not only help to target new customers, but also re-engages previous ones and allows a brand to reinforce core messages. 

Expanding ads to other social media platforms other than Facebook and Instagram is especially critical given the steady increase in users and engagement on Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube. For example, 300 million people use Pinterest every month and 84 percent of people use the platform when they’re deciding what to buy. What’s more, 98 percent of pinners have tried something new they found on Pinterest. According to Pew Research Center’s survey on social media use in 2018, 94 percent of 18-24 year olds use YouTube. Similarly for Snapchat, 82 percent of users ages 18 to 24 say they use the platform daily, and 71 percent use it multiple times a day.

With 70 percent of brands planning to increase spend on social media networks—and the percentage of US internet users who made a purchase through social media growing to 34 percent this year from 29 percent in 2018, per Bizrate Insights—it’s important to note the ways brands are diversifying their paid social media strategy.

Legacy brands, for example, are beginning to test the waters on Pinterest due to the platform’s roll out of discovery tools such as mobile ad tools and “Shop The Look” ads. In May, Macy’s launched an out-of-home (OOH) campaign called “OUT[FITS], stationing pin codes in popular beaches, lakes and parks. When scanned, the pin code directed consumers to a page on which they could shop the items. Similarly, MillersCoors and PepsiCo have taken to Pinterest. In April 2019, MillersCoors launched its Cape Line Sparkling Cocktails on Pinterest via promoted video ads and carousel. To spread the word about its Quaker Kids Organic line of soft-baked bars, PepsiCo utilized static pins targeted to consumers searching for lunchbox inspiration. 

Brands taking a chance on Pinterest comes at a time when the platform found, in a study of 9 million consumers, that Pinterest households were 29 percent more likely to try a new product within the first 10 months of launch than non-Pinterest households—which included more than 40 consumer packaged goods (CPG) product launches.

Campaign elements are also starting to find their way to Twitter, perhaps in light of the platform’s recent attempt to support influencer marketing. Samsung Spain, for example, partnered with HBO’s Game of Thrones to promote its QLED television sets for a Twitter poll about their favorite characters. During the five-day campaign, the #BatallaQLED hashtag received four times more mentions than the #GameofThrones hashtag in Spain.

Grubhub uses Snapchat creatively via ads and contests to target its college students. In 2018, the food delivery company launched a game called “Food’s Here” accessible via an ad in Snapchat stories. As a reward for winning all three levels, users would win $10 off their first order when they downloaded the Grubhub app. The ad ran for 30 days and its success was measured by swipe-up rate, length of game play and offer redemptions. 

On YouTube, six-second bumper ads have been proved to raise brand affinity. YouTube launched theirTrueView” bumper ads in 2018 after a survey the company conducted showed that people are three times more likely to pay attention to online video ads versus televisions ads. Among 84 TrueView campaigns in beta testing, nine out of 10 drove a significant lift in ad recall, with about a 20 percent average lift. Uber, for example, used 85 different TrueView bumper ad variations to connect with consumers in India, resulting in 63 percent more first trips from YouTube at an 18 percent lower cost per first trip than past campaigns. YouTube released a roundup of the top 20 bumper ads from around the globe with brands like Samsung, iHOP and Hefty earning top spots.

In addition to incorporating Snapchat and YouTube into their social campaigns, brands would be wise to up their mobile strategies given that ads are seen on mobile devices 95.1 percent of the time compared to 4.9 percent of the time on desktop, according to Socialbaker. Sephora and The Home Depot are two examples of brands that are using mobile to deliver customers a personalized shopping experience. Sailthru’s retail personalization report ranked Sephora, The Home Depot and Walmart as the top retailers for data-driven mobile and email customization. Eighty-four percent of the top 25 brands surveyed used mobile push notifications compared with 10 percent of brands not in the top 100. Likewise, in a Forrester study of retailer mobile apps, The Home Depot app ranked first due to strong user experience and Sephora came in second.

Getty, AARP Create Photo Collection To Encourage Inclusive Representation Of Seniors

Getty Images and AARP teamed up to launch a collection of images called the “Disrupt Aging Collection,” to squash senior stereotypes and encourage inclusive representation of the audience in marketing.

Representation has become a core element of brand marketing today yet older generations are consistently left out of the picture. If they are in the picture, that image depicts aging as a time of isolation or a lifestyle devoid of intergenerational friendships.

There are over 114 million Americans over the age of 50, which according to the Longevity Economy 2016 report, contribute $7.6 trillion in annual spending yet 80 percent of them agree they’re stereotyped by marketers. Hence Getty Images and AARP’s “Disrupt Aging Collection,” a bank of 1,400 images that capture moments to help break stereotypes and combat ageist biases in advertising. 

A quick search of the word “woman” in the collection yields several images of seniors enjoying physically active lifestyles, managing their businesses and engaging with technology—the opposite of how they’re traditionally depicted. Searches for “senior/seniors” on Getty Images increased 151 percent year-over-year from June 2018 to June 2019. Searches for celebratory moments that involve others and moments with family have been trending with increases two to tenfold year-over-year, according to Dr. Rebecca Swift, global head of creative insights, Getty Images.

An AARP analysis, which reviewed a sample of more than 1,000 images, found that only 15 percent of media imagery reflects seniors despite the fact that 46 percent of the US adult population is over 50. The analysis also found that while one-third of the US labor workforce are 50 and older, only 13 percent of the images showed this age group in a work setting.

Getty and AARP’s initiative follows additional AARP research showing perceived ageism influences seniors’ shopping habits. Seventy percent of people 50 and over said they’re more likely to buy from brands that feature people their age in marketing. Similarly, 80 percent of the same group says that marketers assume their lifestyle is based on stereotypes and 62 percent would consider switching to a brand that represents people their age. People across generations prefer a mix of ages in ads too, as 81 percent of people 18 and over feel better about brands that feature a mix of ages in marketing. Consumers 18 and over are also more likely to buy from brands that do so. 

Direct-To-Consumer Trends With Marcus Startzel, CEO At Whitebox

During this episode of “Marketing Today,” I interview Marcus Startzel, chief executive officer at Whitebox. Whitebox is powering the DTC economy, providing an entire eCommerce operation in a single package. They combine all the functions of the eCommerce process into one service, making it easy for a manufacturer or a brand to sell on a global level and shrink their overhead. They just closed a $5 million Series A funding round led by TDF Ventures. Startzel’s previous experience includes chief revenue officer at AppNexus, chairman and CEO at MediaGlu and general manager at Millennial Media.

On the show today, Startzel discusses the direct-to-consumer economy, many of the current trends in DTC, some examples from his client base at Whitebox, what Whitebox is all about and who is doing DTC well from large companies to smaller digitally-native companies. He also discusses the importance of having powerful awareness campaigns, great reviews and having strong partners.

Startzel defines Whitebox by saying, “In its simplest form, Whitebox is an eCommerce technology sales and logistics platform. Very plainly spoken, we help our clients sell stuff and move stuff as they engage with consumers.” 

What does it take in Startzel’s opinion to succeed in DTC? “The bottom line is you have to have a great product. Great products shine. You could have great marketing that sells an average product. But when you are talking about standing up a direct-to-consumer today and taking it to market, it’s got to start with a great product that answers some consumer demand.” 

In terms of advice, Startzel shares, “Be more confident in your talents. You can do much more than you think.”

Highlights from this week’s “Marketing Today”:

  • Where did Marcus start his career? (01:23)
  • Marcus shares what transferable skills he learned as a submarine officer. (03:01)
  • What is Whitebox? (04:55)
  • What role does Whitebox play in the DTC space? (06:16) 
  • What does it take to stand up for a DTC brand? (11:34)
  • Are there other advantages of selling on other platforms other than their own? (14:14)
  • What advantages does Whitebox provide to the customer? (19:10)
  • Are there any large companies that he feels are playing the DTC game well? (22:09)
  • Is there an experience in Marcus’s life that has defined who he is today? (26:03)
  • What advice would he give to his younger self? (29:56)
  • What fuels Marcus Startzel to keep going in his career and life? (30:55)
  • Are there brands that he thinks we should pay attention to? (32:17)
  • Where does Marcus see the future of marketing going? (33:56)

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.

New Balance Creates Pop-Up Pizzeria For New York City Marathon Campaign

New Balance announced a fully integrated campaign to celebrate the forthcoming New York City Marathon and the brand’s TCS New York City Marathon Collection. The official footwear and apparel sponsor of the marathon for three consecutive years, New Balance is engaging with runners via a pop-up pizzeria, out-of-home (OOH) ads, social engagement and a race day block party.

The NB Pizza Co. pop-up shop will be open to the public on October 11 and every weekend thereafter ahead of the marathon including the marathon weekend. New Balance is encouraging runners to participate in the campaign’s “Miles for Pizza” challenge, where runners from around the world can log their miles wherever they are via the Strava app. To redeem their reward, runners must show staff at the pop-up shop their logged miles in the app to receive free pizza provided by L’Industrie Pizzeria in Williamsburg. Runners will receive one slice for five miles, two slices for 10-25 miles, four slices for 50 miles, six slices for 75 miles and a full pizza for 100 miles. Runners in New York will have additional opportunities to cash in their miles leading up to the race which falls on November 1.

In addition to the “Miles for Pizza” challenge, New Balance is hosting experiential activations including Friday happy hour run, Saturday long runs and single Sundays where the first 50 runners to join receive a free branded singlet. 

New Balance is also creating a multi-sensory shopping experience at the 2019 TCS New York City Marathon Expo, October 31-November 2. The retail space will bring the streets of New York to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, where the expo is taking place, through hero displays and photo opportunities for runners to enjoy. The TCS New York City Marathon Expo, the largest running expo in the US, features over 130 health and fitness vendors. There, runners can shop the New Balance collection and also polish their race strategy with tips from the “NYRR Running Lab,” presented by New Balance.

OOH ads for the campaign will start on October 28 across the ABC super sign, Footlocker and Champs digital signs in Times Square. 

On race day, New Balance will once again host a block party at mile 16 to cheer on runners during their last few miles and hand out free swag to spectators. Sounds will be provided by the Brooklyn United drumline, all-female Brazilian Samba drumline Fogo Azul NYC, DJ Cory Townes, Cobra Performing Arts Majorettes drumline and all-female brass brand the Pinettes.

For Smart Audio, Engagement Is Key

Originally published at AW360.

In our most recent edition of The Smart Audio Report, our research partnership with NPR, we learned that privacy concerns remain an issue with people who have not purchased a smart speaker. In fact, 57 percent agree with the statement, “You worry that hackers could use your smart speaker to get access to your home or personal information,” which is undoubtedly a significant barrier to purchase for many. This stat is perhaps not very surprising. But here’s one that did surprise me: the percentage of people who DO own these devices agreeing with the statement above is… 58 percent. Nearly identical.

In fact, owners and non-owners alike share similar fears and concerns about their privacy and the security of their data. With the latter, these concerns affect their decision to pass, at least for now, on inviting these always-listening devices into their homes. With owners, it’s a little more complicated. In our qualitative research, we detected a fair amount of resignation. After all, the smartphones in our pocket are doing far more egregious things to our privacy every day. Also, a slight majority of owners (54 percent) say that they trust the manufacturer of their device to keep their information secure, so there is currently a little goodwill there.

The privacy concerns of owners might also manifest themselves in other ways, however. While data security may be a barrier to purchase for some, it might also represent a barrier to experimentation for existing owners–in other words, they may be comfortable asking for a song or to have a timer set, but might draw the line at health or financial-related applications. The primary use case for these devices for most owners is to consume music or spoken word audio, information services, and other more mundane tasks such as setting timers. And that might be just fine with the current universe of users.

In fact, in one of the most intriguing findings from the NPR/Edison Research Smart Audio Report is the juxtaposition of these two data points: first, the longer you have owned your device, the fewer things you do with it. For people who have owned one for less than three months, they use an average of nearly 12 different skills weekly, while those who have had their devices for over two years use seven.

You might interpret this to mean that the devices become less important over time, but that’s where the second data point comes in: the percentage of owners who agree with the statement “You wouldn’t want to go back to life without your smart speaker” increases over time. In fact, nearly three times as many in the greater than two years camp agree with that as persons who just received theirs in the last three months. In other words, people love them even more, despite the fact that they pare down on skills and features they might have experimented with when they first got their devices.

For brands seeking activations on smart speakers, then, it is not discovery, but engagement–that is the real challenge. Trial of branded skills and content can be encouraged through native advertising in on-speaker content streams, but the real trick is in making skills or services that are truly useful, and not just novel. It’s very easy to get caught up in the promise of what these devices could do and lose track of what we need them to do–entertain us or be genuinely helpful in our day to day lives. With genuine utility will come greater trust, and with greater trust, a greater willingness to try voice assistant technology in more areas of our lives.

IRONMAN Taps New CMO In Time For Annual World Championship

This week in marketing moves, The IRONMAN Group, a Wanda Sports Group company, names a new CMO; former Moosejaw marketing executive, Dan Pingree, joins Park West Gallery as CMO; Monkey Knife Fight, a fantasy sports platform hires former Nike VP; Iliana Williams joins Oak Street Funding as chief marketing officer; The Meatless Farm Co. acquires a new CMO and Karen Walker joins Intel as senior vice president and CMO.

The IRONMAN Group Names Ellen Newberg As Chief Marketing Officer 

Almost a week before The IRONMAN annual World Championship in Kailua-Kona, the company announced the appointment of Ellen Newberg as the company’s new chief marketing officer. 

Newberg joins The IRONMAN from Professional Bull Riders (PBR), where she held several executive marketing roles for nearly ten years, most recently as CMO.

In her new role, Newberg will be in charge of the event marketing, including IRONMAN, IRONMAN 70.3, Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series and the Epic Series. 

Matthieu Van Veen, chief revenue officer for The IRONMAN Group, said about the new addition to the company’s marketing team: “[Newberg] has deep firsthand knowledge of our athletes and demonstrated years of success in sports and entertainment marketing. She is a proven leader and will be able to contribute immediately to the success of our events through event marketing and programs.”

Former Moosejaw CMO Appointed Chief Marketing Officer For Park West Gallery 

A privately-owned art dealer, Park West Gallery, tapped former Moosejaw CMO Dan Pingree as chief marketing officer.  Pingree has almost 20 years of experience leading digital marketing, e-commerce and product teams. 

“Over the past 50 years, Park West has built an amazing brand story, and Dan is the ideal person to help us tell that story to the world. He brings with him a unique [skill set] and understanding of digital marketing and e-commerce, and has a strong track record of building and developing robust teams, which makes him a tremendous addition to Park West,” said Park West Gallery Founder and CEO Albert Scaglione.  

Oak Street Funding Names New CMO 

A First Financial Bank company, Oak Street Funding, hired Iliana Williams as chief marketing officer to replace Sharon Robbins who is retiring from the role. 

Williams previously held marketing roles at MasterCard Worldwide, GE Finance and Procter and Gamble. At Oak Street Funding she will be responsible for the marketing and communications direction of the company to drive further growth.

“I’m thrilled with this opportunity with Oak Street, its talented marketing team and to be able to spend time with Sharon which will allow for an extremely smooth transition. I look forward to the challenge of taking the organization to the next level while also taking pride in working for a company that recognizes the value of building quality relationships with their employees, customers and the communities they serve,” Williams said.

Former Head Of Global Digital Brand Innovation At Nike Joins DFS Platform As CMO

The North American fantasy sports platform, Monkey Knife Fight, tapped Danny Tawiah as CMO. 

Tawiah previously held the role of head of global digital brand innovation at Nike, where he was responsible for Nike’s largest global digital brand campaigns, such as the 2010 FIFA World Cup (South Africa), 2012 Olympics (London) and 2014 FIFA World Cup (Brazil). 

At Monkey Knife Fight, Tawiah will be tasked with building a brand from the ground up. He said on the matter: “From the moment I met the MKF team and heard their vision, I knew this was a team I could work well with and together we could do something special. This is a brand that is only just beginning to scratch its true potential. I’m excited for the opportunity.”

Lone Thomsen Named Chief Marketing Officer For The Meatless Farm Co.

This week, The Meatless Farm Co. announces the appointment of Lone Thomsen to the role of chief marketing officer. 

Thomsen joins The Meatless Farm Co. from The Coca-Cola Company, where she served as head of media and connections strategy and IMC lead, portfolio expansion, for The Coca-Cola Company, Western Europe. Prior to that, Thomsen held global strategy roles in several media and advertising agencies.

At The Meatless Farm Co, she will be tasked with the international expansion of the company, as well as its strategic growth.  

“It’s fantastic news that Lone is joining the Meatless farmers. It’s such an important time in the company’s evolution as the global market heats up. Lone has been a strategic advisor to us since launch and as chief marketing officer, her experience, knowledge and passion will really help drive the company and its continued growth, globally,” founder Morten Toft Bech said about Thomsen’s appointment. 

Karen Walker To Join Intel As Senior VP And CMO

Former Cisco CMO Karen Walker will join Intel as senior VP and CMO, effective October 23, where she will lead the company’s global marketing team to build and strengthen Intel’s brand and be responsible for growing demand for Intel’s products and solutions worldwide. 

Intel’s CEO Bob Swan said about Walker’s appointment: “Karen is a truly a world-class CMO. She has deep experience with many of our most valued customers and a keen understanding of what it will take to play an even larger role in their success. We are excited to have Karen on our leadership team.”

FMG Welcomes Industry Veteran Andrew Lipman As CMO 

Campaign US reports that Future Media Group Inc. hired Andrew Lipman as the company’s new CMO.

According to Lipman’s LinkedIn, he spent four years as global communications director at Cadillac before joining FMG. Previous to that, he also served as a general manager at Audi of America and as a vice president at Ketchum. 

Warner Bros. Pictures Welcomes Former Disney Exec As SVP, Marketing EMEA

Charlie Coleman, who spent more than 20 years at Disney, most recently as a VP and managing director, franchise management, was named senior vice president of marketing EMEA at Warner Bros. Pictures. 

Coleman will lead Warner. Bros. EMEA development and campaign oversight, oversee the regional marketing team including strategy, media, digital, publicity and creative. He will report to Julien Noble, executive vice president, international marketing.

“Charlie is a highly experienced marketing executive, incredibly creative with an amazing track record. We’ll look to his expertise to help us continue to push our strategic approach for our marketing campaigns. I’m excited for him to join us, he will be an incredible addition to our Warner Bros. team,” Noble said. 

Check out our careers section for executive job openings and to post your own staffing needs.

Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment is updated until Friday, September 30. Have a new hire tip? We’re looking for senior executive role changes in marketing and media. Let us know at

Job Vacancies 

Chief Marketing Officer ThirdLoveSan Francisco, CA
Vice President, Film MarketingNew York UniversityBrooklyn, NY
Chief Communications And Marketing OfficerUC San DiegoSan Diego, CA
Senior Vice President Of MarketingClear Channel OutdoorNew York, NY
SVP–Creative MarketingWalt Disney TelevisionBurbank, CA
Vice President, Marketing Int’l International Distribution And ProductionsSony Pictures Entertainment Inc.Culver City, CA

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

West Elm Experiments With Creative Home Design Game Challenges

West Elm is transforming a boutique condominium in New York City into an interactive concept store, presented by New York City-based real estate marketplace, StreetEasy and open now through the end of October. The brand’s first-ever holiday house hosts experiential activations featuring several lifestyle partners and will extend to digital “holiday house challenges” to gamers across the world. 

The interactive holiday house marks the first time the design and lifestyle company is offering tutorials and seasonal activations beyond its global retail stores. Programming at the holiday house includes a Facebook Live panel with Sherwin-Williams and a three-part digital series that shows guests how West Elm teamed with StreatEasty to find the perfect home for its holiday house. In addition, customers can try three mattresses from sustainable mattress brand, Leesa Sleep. Sonos will display its new Sonos Move products and Johnnie Walker will host cocktail classes. Visitors can also take floral workshops and participate in free 30-minute, one-on-one consultations with West Elm design experts about holiday decorating.

For those who can’t make it to New York, mobile game Design Home created two home design challenges modeled after West Elm’s New York City pop-up. From October 1-8, Design Home players who enter the challenges will receive $10 off on their next West Elm purchase when they spend a minimum of $20. The game is open to users in the US, Canada, Australia and the UK. 

West Elm’s virtual game initiative is riding the wave of a strong gaming community, especially among its core demographic, as women make up 45 percent of US gamers, and 30 percent are women between the ages of 18 and 35. Similarly, 46 percent of UK gamers are female. Given 60 percent of US female mobile gamers play daily, it’s a good bet that West Elm is leveraging the medium to attract the Design Home player, whose average age is 38-years-old.

Through creative game play, Design Home empowers over 1 million women to discover the latest home décor trends and brands. The game, launched in 2016, reached 30 million downloads and $71.5 million in bookings in its first year.