Ad Council And She Can STEM Host Virtual Concert In Minecraft

As part of their new experiential Dare to STEM campaign, She Can STEM and the Ad Council hosted a virtual concert within Minecraft featuring singer-songwriter Ruth B. to help bridge the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Virtual doors to the 43-minute concert opened on September 19 when fans could see Ruth B. perform 10 songs within Minecraft or watch the show live on She Can STEM’s YouTube channel. The concert has since amassed 4,750 views on YouTube.

During the week leading up to the event, Minecraft Java Edition players could try five different STEM challenges to build elements of the virtual world for a chance to win a ticket to the concert. Some of the resulting user-generated content was then featured throughout Ruth B.’s performance.

Twitch influencers like Shubble, FalseSymmetry, GamingMermaid and Strawburry17 posted video tutorials to their social channels sharing how they used their STEM skills to create fireworks displays, light shows, monuments celebrating women in their lives, music and aquariums for the event.

The Minecraft activation is part of She Can STEM’s “Dare to STEM” campaign which includes digital, social and broadcast public service announcements that will run nationwide. Part of the all female-produced creative is a 60-second video spot that encourages girls to “dare to fail” and “program something internet-breaking.”

“STEM has a reputation for being intimidating and reserved for those who ‘have a knack for it,’ but the reality is that STEM is for everyone brave enough to roll up their sleeves and dive in. Through the latest iteration of our She Can STEM campaign, we’re celebrating the spirit of experimentation and inspiring girls to dare to STEM – and what better way to do that than by hosting a virtual concert in Minecraft? Ultimately, this event was intended to make STEM feel cool, culturally relevant and accessible to girls, no matter where they are in their STEM journeys,” said Rowena Patrick, senior vice president, group campaign director at the Ad Council.

Since the pandemic, in-game concerts have provided a way forward for the live music industry. In April, Travis Scott held a concert within Fortnite that drew in 12.3 million concurrent players. Thereafter, in August, The Weeknd performed tracks from his latest album during a virtual concert on TikTok that drew more than 2 million total viewers.

G4 Is Back…Wait, Who Am I Again?

(Originally aired September 22nd on LinkedIn Live.)

On the show today, we’re featuring a conversation between Ayzenberg’s Matt Bretz and VP of Content Partnerships and Brand Development at Comcast Spectacor, Blair Herter.

Blair and Matt discuss the new WFH paradigm and how conditions from COVID-19 may actually be changing us… for the better? Blair gives us insight into managing life while balancing the relaunch of G4 and offers advice we can all take on navigating our many competing roles now that work and home life are intermingled.

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

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: Reimagining Sports

David Rielly, (GCD at, an independent agency within the, shares his thoughts on the state of the world, creative and sports as Gary Goodman’s guest columnist this week. 

Thank you to Gary and AList for inviting me aboard. Long-time reader, first-time columnist. 😉

As easy as it would be for me to stay inside my wheelhouse and riff on tech, or toys or gaming, what my eyeballs have been drawn to lately is the wide and reimagined world of sports.

In the grand scheme of things this particular insight doesn’t measure up to the cultural reckoning of BLM or the far-reaching ravages of COVID-19, but I suspect I’m not alone in seeing my relationship to sports in a new light.

The sports dominoes fell swiftly in March, from the suspension of the NBA regular season, to the NCAA’s cancellation of March Madness to MLB pulling the plug halfway through Spring Training.

And while there was no shortage of shows and movies to stream to steer ourselves away from the nightmare of the news, millions of sports fans began to feel an unscratchable itch without a single new game to watch.

The record-breaking ratings of ESPN’s The Last Dance showed I was not alone. Even though sports fans of a certain age knew how it ended, the dramatic twists, turns and revelations of Michael Jordan’s final season with the Bulls was as close as we could get to “new.” 

After a four-month absence, we started to see MLB, the NBA, pro tennis and more come back. And despite having no fans in the stands, watching these games has restored a rhythm to daily life that was sorely missed. 

Like many people, the only time I watch ads on TV is for live programming like sports, so I’ve definitely over-indexed here lately. So with that in mind, here are three campaigns that have made an impression on me as a viewer, but also as a marketer.

NBA: “Whole New Game”

It’s no secret that purpose-driven brands tend to break through and resonate with audiences in ways that create long-lasting affinity. But what happens when that purpose is one of the most polarizing movements of our time?

From a marketing perspective, the NBA’s “Whole New Game” campaign for the seeding games and playoffs held in the “The Bubble” (aka the ESPN Wide World of  Sports Complex at the Disney World resort in Orlando) referred to the dramatic changes required to keep the season going. But no fans also meant new access to the games themselves, as camera rigs were free to roam the sidelines without fear of obstructing the view.

Why it matters: From the player perspective, though, that new view was also a platform for the league and the players to support Black Lives Matters. Not only was the court itself emblazoned with BLM, but players were allowed to choose from a series of messages such as Vote, Say Their Names, I Can’t Breathe and more as a way to use their platform to send social justice messages to viewers.

Anecdotally speaking, the seeding games leading up to the beginning of the playoffs were marked by incredible intensity on and off the court. And as the playoffs began, and new stars were minted in the glare of the spotlight, the in-game interstitials on TNT and ESPN began to combine the ferocity of the competitive spirit with the urgency of the BLM messaging.

The details: The result was the overwhelming sense that the NBA playoffs were being marketed as a cultural event more than a sporting event. I won’t go into parsing the ratings, which can be viewed through different lenses as a success or a let-down, but they did draw the attention of President Trump which further stoked the flames. The shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, WI, escalated the on-court drama even further, as the Milwaukee Bucks collectively decided that they could and would not play their first-round game against Orlando, which quickly cascaded into an NBA-wide walkout.

A Whole New Game indeed.

Bud Light: “Beer Vendor”

Let’s shift gears into something a bit more light-hearted, but also indicative of how the sports and advertising landscape has changed.

As a bit of a beer snob, I wouldn’t knowingly drink a Bud Light, but there was something striking about the sight of a stadium beer vendor walking alone through a suburban street hawking his wares. With a series of vignettes centered around a surprisingly relatable character, Bud Light created a fresh take on the spokesman while striking a chord in all of us who remember what our jobs used to feel like… and how much they’ve changed so much in such a short time. And in doing so, they’ve earned a newfound affinity for a brand that’s tended towards the zany and sophomoric.

Why it matters: Getting the tone “right” has been an evolving situation in the pandemic. As heartfelt and important as the early-days trend of “let’s stop the spread” and “we’re in this together”, there was a limit to how much plaintive piano we could take. Humor was inevitable, but it had to be a nuanced take.

Hearing “Even-though-you-can’t-go-to-the-game-doesn’t-mean-the-game-can’t-be-brought-to- you” delivered in the fast-talking high-register shout of a beer vendor acknowledges the pandemic, while slyly offering you a solution to your thirst that may not have been top of mind.

The details: The spot’s CTA asks you to go to, which takes you to a landing page that makes it easy to have Bud Light shipped to you with Amazon PrimeNow… because 2020.

The production solution is also a great fit for the current challenges facing live-action shoots. There is only one on-camera talent, and you can bet they collected enough material on their shoot day for a nice suite of vignettes and social content. As a tertiary read, it feels like a savvy way to normalize the new product Bud Light Seltzer as something that of course beer drinking sports fans would be sipping as they watch the game.

I’m betting we’ll be seeing plenty more spots with the high-level conceit of nostalgia for the way we were cold-filtered through the challenges of the time we’re in.

TikTok “It Starts on TikTok”

As a tennis fan watching as much of the US Open as possible, I considered diving into the hypothesis that sponsoring brands for this sport had not yet found a way to tap into the current zeitgeist.

But as I watched Serena’s quest for Slam #24 fall tantalizingly short once again, I was surprised to see a :60 for TikTok. Those who follow the sport may find this ad-buy surprising as well, as tennis audiences are usually perceived as older fuddy-duddies, with most commercial breaks peddling IBM’s Watson and various high-end retirement solutions.

Why it matters: But when I saw the “It Starts on TikTok” spot, I felt a breath of fresh air blow through the telecast. Diversity is so critical to everything we do as marketers, but as a sometimes-cynic, I feel that I can spot where it is forced and where it is authentic.

This spot blew me away with its authenticity, its energy, and its positivity. Embedded in its message is a nod to the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity, and the simple joys of self-expression and stepping outside your comfort zone. Not to mention the user-friendly mechanics of getting views and likes.

The details: As Gary and I have discussed many times in our decade-plus as collaborators and co-conspirators in the, you can’t overestimate the power of a good music track to create a receptive mood.

“Sing to Me,” a sweet and twinkling duet between Walter Martin and Karen O, underscores the warm and fuzzy collective of talent arrayed across the widest and most inclusive spectrum of humanity a :60 could possibly hold. 

I also appreciated that the mix of TikTokers featured was a blend of famous, influential and everyday users. It’s hard to think of an app with as much chatter around it as Tik Tok, and it’s very savvy of them to present their mission of limitless self-expression as a way to control the narrative.

Coming full circle to the sports analogy, this spot encapsulates what I continue to be drawn to. The unscripted, the unpredictable, the magic and drama of real life, all captured, interpreted and curated to forge a new style of connection. 

It’s hard to think of a year that’s gone off-script more than 2020 has. When advertising content captures unscripted presence and expression in a moment, our guard is lowered and the key marketing messages become much harder to ignore.

Prudential Appoints Susan Somersille Johnson As CMO

This week in leadership updates, Prudential hires Susan Somersille Johnson as CMO, Discord appoints Tesa Aragones CMO, Mazda North American Operations makes interim CMO Brad Audet’s title permanent and Massage Envy names Julie Cary as chief marketing and innovation officer.

Prudential Hires Susan Somersille Johnson As Chief Marketing Officer

Prudential has announced that Susan Somersille Johnson will join the company as CMO, effective October 5. In her new role, Johnson will report to head of US businesses, Andy Sullivan, and head of international businesses, Scott Sleyster.

Prior to Prudential, Johnson served as corporate executive vice president and CMO at Truist Financial.

Discord Names Tesa Aragones As Chief Marketing Officer

Tesa Aragones is joining Discord as CMO after a $100 million funding round in late June, according to Adweek.

Aragones brings over 25 years of experience from various marketing roles she’s held at Nike, Volkswagen and David&Goliath.

Mazda North American Operations Appoints Brad Audet Chief Marketing Officer

Mazda North American Operations has appointed its interim CMO, Brad Audet, permanent CMO.

For the past seven years, Audet served as executive vice president of Garage Team Mazda, WPP’s integrated marketing agency for Mazda. Prior to Garage Team Mazda, he was EVP of Team Detroit.

Massage Envy Hires Julie Cary As Chief Marketing Officer

Massage Envy has named Julie Cary as chief marketing and innovation officer.

Before joining Massage Envy, Cary served as CMO for La Quinta Inns and Suites for 12 years.

Burberry To Live Stream Spring/Summer 2021 Runway Show On Twitch

Making the best of a canceled in-person fashion month, Burberry has announced it will debut its spring/summer 2021 collection via a Twitch live stream, making Burberry the first fashion house to partner with Twitch for a virtual fashion show.

On Burberry’s Twitch account, the brand posted a 23-second trailer teasing the show, which will be streamed live on September 17, the first day of London Fashion Week, at 12:30 p.m. BST, or British Summer Time. The teaser marks the first video from the fashion house, whose Twitch account has 480 followers.

“Burberry has always been a brand of firsts and partnering with Twitch continues this legacy,” Burberry chief marketing officer Rod Manley said.

Manley’s words aren’t merely press release fluff. In 2010, Burberry became the first luxury brand to livestream its runway show—in 3D to five global cities and streamed to the rest of Burberry fans through 73 websites including Vogue, CNN and Grazia. During a 72 hour-window right after the event, people could buy the shearling jackets from the show.  

Burberry’s virtual Twitch event comes just two months after the brand teamed up with WeChat’s parent company, Tencent, to open a tech-enabled social retail store in Shenzhen, China. Digital touchpoints including a WeChat mini program and a digital animal avatar enable shoppers to earn in-store rewards and unlock exclusive content.

The immersive store concept is gaining traction among luxury brands. In August, Lancôme opened a virtual flagship store in Singapore that offers skincare enthusiasts artificial intelligence-powered skin consultations and customizable products via a machine.

Pepsi To Host Virtual Experiences For Football Fans In Celebration Of SoFi Stadium Debut

Timed to the Los Angeles Rams and Chargers season openers, Pepsi is gearing up to launch a virtual pregame concert and tailgate, an augmented reality (AR) filter that lets fans show their pride and a contest to award 1,000 people with Pizza Hut digital gift cards. The at-home game day experiences aim to celebrate the debut of the football teams’ new home, SoFi Stadium, a $5.5 billion stadium and entertainment complex for which Pepsi is the official soft drink.

To drum up hype for the Rams season opener on September 13, Pepsi is hosting a virtual pregame show featuring rapper Jay Rock that will live on Pepsi’s YouTube channel for 24 hours.

Pepsi is also launching an AR filter that will virtually paint team colors onto Rams fans’ selfies, which can then be shared across social media channels.

Chargers fans can get in the football season spirit from home too, as Pepsi is hosting a virtual tailgate featuring fan filters, merchandise and game day eats to celebrate the Chargers season opener on September 20. During the tailgate, Pepsi will give 1,000 fans $20 Pizza Hut digital gift cards that let them redeem a free pizza and two-liter Pepsi.

In addition, Pepsi has partnered with the Chargers’ popular defensive line, known as the Jackboyz, and Los Angeles-based artist Francisco Reyes Jr. to design a limited-edition t-shirt that 100 fans can win through a giveaway on Instagram and Twitter.

The aforementioned activations are part of Pepsi’s larger 2020 football campaign, “Made for Football Watching,” which includes a new digital hub featuring content, recipes and consumer sweeps. One such sweepstakes will give three fans the chance to receive a visit from a branded Buffalo Bills tailgate truck and veteran running back Thurman Thomas. The truck, dubbed Pepsi x Bills Tailgate Truck, features a stocked fridge, tailgating games and a branded table. To enter, participants must submit their email, location, phone number and date of birth.

Amazon Appoints Ukonwa Ojo As CMO Of Prime Video, Amazon Studios

This week in leadership updates, Amazon hires Ukonwa Ojo as chief marketing officer of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, American Eagle adds chief creative officer to Aerie global brand president Jennifer Foyle’s title, Pinterest names Tyi McCray global head of inclusion and diversity, Shutterfly appoints Craig Rowley as vice president and chief marketing officer and more.

Amazon Hires Ukonwa Ojo As Chief Marketing Officer Of Prime Video, Amazon Studios

Ukonwa Ojo has joined Amazon as CMO for Prime Video and Amazon Studios, according to Deadline.

In her new role, Ojo will lead global brand and originals marketing while reporting to Mike Hopkins, SVP of Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

Prior to Amazon, Ojo was CMO at MAC Cosmetics and Coty, respectively.

American Eagle Adds Chief Creative Officer To Aerie Global Brand President Jennifer Foyle’s Title

Jennifer Foyle has accepted a promotion as American Eagle’s chief creative officer, a title she adds to her existing role of global brand president for Aerie. 

Last year, Foyle led to nearly $800 million in revenue.

Pinterest Names Tyi McCray As Global Head Of Inclusion And Diversity

Pinterest has appointed Tyi McCray as its new global head of inclusion and diversity. McCray will report directly to Pinterest co-founder and chief executive officer Ben Silbermann. 

Prior to Pinterest, McCray worked as the co-founder and chief executive officer of Equipt, a web and mobile game app that teaches people to interact and build relationships with people of all identities.

Shutterfly Hires Craig Rowley As Senior Vice President And Chief Marketing Officer

Shutterfly has hired Craig Rowley as SVP and CMO. In his new role, Rowley will lead all marketing strategies across Shutterfly’s portfolio of brands, including the Shutterfly namesake, Snapfish, Lifetouch and more.

Most recently, Rowley was global CMO at Groupon. Prior to that, he served as VP of marketing for REI.

Teespring Appoints Les Green As Vice President Of Marketing

Les Green is joining Teespring as the company’s new VP of marketing, WWD reports.

Prior to joining Teespring, Green worked for a decade at Nike in various marketing roles, including marketing director of Nike Africa and global brand director for Nike Sportswear.

As Teespring’s VP of marketing, Green will be tasked with growing the company’s roster of creators and platform partners, which include TikTok, YouTube, Instagram and Twitch.

Citi Promotes Carla Hassan To Chief Marketing Officer

Carla Hassan has accepted a promotion as Citi’s new CMO, according to Adweek. Hassan is replacing Jennifer Breithaupt, who held the role of Citi global consumer CMO.

Prior to being promoted, Hassan served as the bank’s chief brand officer since 2018.

Gannett Announces The Addition Of Mayur Gupta As Chief Marketing And Strategy Officer

Gannett has named Mayur Gupta as the company’s chief marketing and strategy officer, effective today. Gupta replaces Andy Yost, who left the CMO role in January 2020 after nearly 5 years. Gupta will effectively move from acting as a board member for the company to leading marketing.

Gupta previously held the CMO position at Freshly and served as VP of growth and marketing at Spotify. Gannett’s Chairman and CEO, Michael Reed, was quoted in the wire as saying that Gupta’s experience “as a growth and content marketer at big CPGs like Kimberly Clark as well as disruptive start-ups like Spotify and Freshly that have re-shaped their categories” will position him to “transform [Gannett’s] business model and drive purpose-driven growth”

T-Mobile Launches $10.7 Billion Initiative To Give Free Internet Access To 10 Million Student Households

T-Mobile has launched a $10.7 billion initiative called Project 10Million to make internet connectivity more accessible to underserved student households navigating remote online learning. The company has partnered with school districts across the nation to offer free mobile hotspots, 100GB of free high-speed data for five years, plus access to at-cost laptops and tablets—valued at about $500 per student household. Unlimited data options for school districts to pass on to eligible students at no cost are also available as part of the program’s expansion.

In a 10-minute video posted to the company’s YouTube account, T-Mobile CEO Mike Sievert explained how Project 10Million started, noting that even before the pandemic, more than 9 million of America’s 56 million school-age kids lacked access to internet connectivity. As a result, students are unable to complete after-school assignments and receive lower grades. Researchers predict students with poor or no connectivity can lose up to 14 months of learning over time compared to their peers with internet access, also known as the “COVID Slide” effect.

“Just in New York alone, T-Mobile is helping more than 350,000 students with iPads and data as they start their virtual classes. We’ve also partnered with the California Department of Education and Apple to connect another million students as they go back to school and start virtual learning,” Mike Katz, executive vice president of T-Mobile for business, said in the video.

At the start of the pandemic, T-Mobile observed virtual learners were using about 33GB of data per month. Since then, the company has connected 1.6 million students across 3,100 school districts with free or highly subsidized services, according to Sievert.

T-mobile first announced Project 10Million in November 2019 in anticipation of its merger with Sprint. The initiative marks the third and final element of T-Mobile’s 1.0 5G for Good commitments that the company announced before the merger was approved. In March, the company launched T-Mobile Connect, which offers half-off of its lowest-priced plan. A few months later came ‘Connecting Heroes,’ a program that gives first responders free 5G access for a full decade.

Red Wing Shoe Company Launches #LaborDayOn Movement

This Labor Day, Red Wing Shoe Company is forgoing sales to help millions of Americans unemployed due to COVID-19 find jobs through an initiative called #LaborDayOn. The brand will transform its 525 Red Wing Shoe stores into job centers and turn its customer service line into a job search hotline.

Red Wing is calling on brands to do the same and post job openings with the hashtag #LaborDayOn. So far, over 50 brands have pledged to use their own marketing channels to promote openings, including Burger King, General Mills, Johnsonville, Land O’ Lakes, New Balance, Polaris, Sleep Number and more. On the campaign’s microsite, a toolkit that includes job listing and social media templates is available to download.

In addition to promoting #LaborDayOn via its social channels, Red Wing has created a video featuring clickable, open positions at Red Wing and affiliated trade partners.

Job seekers can gain free guidance and learn about job listings when they call the 800-RED-WING line on Labor Day.

“For 25 million unemployed Americans, this Labor Day won’t be a day off. So, we’re not taking one either,” reads the brand’s social media posts.

In March 2019, Red Wing opened its first-ever permanent flagship store in New York City, a 3,300-square-foot space featuring a boot repair and care bar, experts to help with fit, an interactive wall that pays tribute to tough jobs done while wearing Red Wing boots and an immersive boot construction display.

A few months later, in May, the brand launched a new work boot made from start to finish in its US facility for the first time in two decades after an arduous road to bring production home.

Recently, Red Wing has launched new boot styles to target women and younger generations.  

Barefoot Teams With Black Eyed Peas To Launch Charitable AR Music Experience

Barefoot has teamed up with the Black Eyed Peas to launch an augmented reality (AR) music experience called “Band Together” on the Barefoot Wine app that gives back to two non-profit organizations.

Barefoot is also collecting emails as part of a giveaway consumers can enter for a chance to win a virtual meet and greet with the Black Eyed Peas.

Starting today, when consumers scan the quick response (QR) code on “Band Together” store displays or the foot logo on select Barefoot products using the Barefoot app, they can enjoy a virtual AR performance by the Black Eyed Peas. 

In a 30-second video spot posted across Barefoot’s social channels, the group is shown as avatars performing an exclusive version of their newest single, “VIDA LOCA,” which they debuted at the 2020 MTV VMAs finale.

With each additional Barefoot product scanned, new parts of the “VIDA LOCA” song will be added until the full song is heard. Custom animated visuals of Black Eyed Peas will appear with each label scan.

For every label scan from now until the end of the “Band Together” campaign on December 31, Barefoot will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society and Children of Restaurant Employees (CORE), a non-profit that supports food and beverage service employees with kids— up to $100,000 total.

Products featuring the scannable AR music experience include the Barefoot Still Wines and Seltzers.

To enter for a chance to virtually meet the Black Eyed Peas, fans can either enter their email and zip code on the campaign website or follow @barefootwine and share their AR “Band Together” experience on Instagram or Twitter with the tags @barefootwine and #BFTxVidaLocaSweeps.

Barefoot’s parent company E. & J. Gallo Winery has seen a surge in sales since the pandemic as consumers host virtual celebrations and look for new ways to spend their time at home.

“The rise of virtual observances – happy hours, baby showers, birthdays and even weddings – means consumers are using technology in new ways while enjoying wine and spirits as a part of their connections. Several of our wineries are now engaging consumers through weekly virtual happy hours with winemakers and cooking demonstrations with chefs,” said Stephanie Gallo, Chief Marketing Officer, E. & J. Gallo.

Capitalizing on the increase in at-home cooking during lockdowns, E. & J. Gallo Winery launched a weekly cooking demo on Instagram Live called “Supper Series” hosted by the executive chefs of two separate California wineries.

From February 23 through May 2, when stay-at-home orders took effect, wine total dollar sales increased by 38 percent, with unit sales up by 32 percent, according to Catalina. In addition, 46 percent of wine buyers made a repeat purchase versus 36 percent a year ago.