US Consumer Confidence Reaches Six-Year Low As COVID-19 Worries Remount

As worries over COVID-19 remount, the Conference Board’s consumer confidence index plunged to a reading of 84.8 in August, the lowest since May 2014. In July, the reading was 91.7.

The decline, which marks the second consecutive monthly decrease in consumer confidence reported by the Conference Board, is based on consumers’ assessment of the current labor market and incomes.

Consumer perception of the job market plummeted to a score of -3.7 in August, down from 2.2 in July—figures that reflect recent unemployment rates reported by the US Department of Labor.

From August 16 to August 22 alone, just over a million people applied for unemployment insurance. In total, about 27 million people are receiving some form of unemployment.

The grim outlook is in part due to the federal government canceling $600 weekly unemployment checks at the end of July.

Consumers also have doubts about their incomes, as the number of respondents anticipating an increase in pay dropped to 12.7 percent in August, down from 14.8 percent in July. Those who expect a decline in their income increased from 15.8 percent in July to 16.6 percent in August.

“This reinforces our view that a V-shaped recovery will not happen, the U.S. economy is unlikely to recover all of its lost output until mid-2022,” James Knightley, chief international economist at ING in New York, told Reuters.

The Conference Board’s data reinforce the findings of a consumer survey conducted by Dunnhumby, whose “Worry Index” reached 29 percent in August, up six percent from June and just below the 30% it reached at the pandemic’s start.

In addition, Dunnhumby’s survey revealed people’s concerns about the cost of food, with 42 percent saying they’ve noticed an increase in food prices since the beginning of the pandemic.

Despite a surge in online grocery shopping, in-store grocery trips account for 65 percent of all food trips, according to Dunnhumby. Still, 27 percent worry they could become exposed to COVID-19 while at the grocery store.

Listen In: What Can Hispanic Market Advertising Teach Us About Our Craft?

(Originally aired September 1st on LinkedIn Live.)

On the show today, we’re featuring a conversation between Ayzenberg’s Matt Bretz and VP of strategy and planning at Acento, Angelica Garcia.

Cross-cultural sensitivity is nothing new to Angelica Garcia. She shares highlights from her thirty-plus year career in the ad business and the ins-and-outs of Hispanic market advertising.

Her takeaway for marketers is that the often complicated task of reaching multi-generational and ethnically, linguistically, culturally diverse Hispanic audiences with the right message, is one we can learn from as it relates to our own craft.

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.

Master P Launches Packaged Foods Line With A Purpose

Master P has launched a line of packaged foods with a purpose called Uncle P’s Louisiana Seasoned as an alternative to brands like Uncle Ben’s and Aunt Jemima, who recently came under fire for their racist brand identities.

In March, the rapper and his partner, James Lindsey, created PJ Foods Company to encourage other black-owned companies to change the narrative and launch their own products.

Uncle P’s Louisiana Seasoned products include flavored rices, beans, syrup, oatmeal, grits and pancake mix.

A portion of profits from the Uncle P’s brand will go toward educating inner-city kids, helping elderly people in black communities and developing real estate in black neighborhoods, he told CNN. In addition, the brand has plans to create more job opportunities with upward mobility for black employees.

“When you look at Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben, a lot of those products are mockeries of African-American people and couldn’t even feed our communities. With Uncle P, the more we make, the more we give. And the only way to give is by owning these products,” said Master P.

Black Lives Matter protests induced corporate America’s racial reckoning, which led brands like Uncle Ben’s, Aunt Jemima, Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s to update their brand packaging after many pointed out that their mascots and imagery have racist origins.

Major retailers and social media platforms alike have launched initiatives to promote black-owned brands as searches for black-owned companies have surged. For example, Sephora announced it will dedicate 15 percent of shelf space for black-owned brands. Pinterest debuted a Pinterest Shop collection featuring over 600 products from 20 black-owned beauty and fashion brands, while Facebook is making it easier to discover black-owned businesses by enabling page admins to self-identify and appear in the “Black-owned Businesses” subsection in the “Business Nearby” tab.

Listen In: How Do We Grow Black Leaders In Design And Advertising?

(Originally aired August 25th on LinkedIn Live.)

On the show today, we’re featuring a conversation between Ayzenberg’s Matt Bretz and co-founder and CCO of Pastilla Inc., Rudy Manning.

Rudy and Matt discuss BIPOC representation in the field of graphic design as well as Rudy’s path to commercial design. Rudy also discusses how his passion for design was sparked while in adolescence and explains his various initiatives, namely with Price School, to foster design awareness at an early age among black youth. Matt and Rudy then discuss how to make a difference in the local community of Pasadena by taking swift action, including a pledge to reconvene in six months to check on progress.

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: Create Bigger Waves

Gary Goodman here. We’re diverging from our normal programming to share a new voice and perspective this week.

Even if you don’t know Rob Matthews, you’ve certainly felt the waves created by his work at either Xbox or Nintendo as the former head of global integrated marketing at Xbox. He’s also the founder and managing partner of Swiftwater Group. Take it away Rob!

There are brands that create waves of change and those that simply ride the waves of others.

The brands that people love, the ones that change the world, create big waves. But that requires courage—to get out of the wake of others and find your own open water. Conviction—knowing who you are and why you matter. And a clear vision—one that will inspire others and create relevancy. 

The three campaigns highlighted below are radically different, yet they share a common attribute—they come from brands that create big waves in popular culture. As a marketer, I always try to find an intersection between strategy and imagination. Where the narrative rings true for my brand and product but also strikes an emotional chord with my audience. 

These campaigns find that intersection. They each remain true to their respective brands and will speak volumes to their fans. But they also tap into a bigger concept that everyone can relate to, regardless of whether or not you use their products. Two of them do it with a sense of bigness and scale. One does it more intimately. But all three tap into the current cultural ethos.

Apple: “Vertical Cinema”

Apple’s latest “shot on iPhone” campaign redefines the concept of cinema.  For years they have been rewriting the rules of photography, giving everyone with an iPhone the ability to take professional-quality images. Now they are doing the same with film. 

Historically, there has been a clear distinction between “shooting a video” and producing “cinematic film.” But their new campaign blurs the lines between the two. And for good reason, vertical video is rapidly growing as more people are using their phones to tell their stories. But Apple wanted to go beyond the six-to-ten-second videos that tend to dominate the vertical landscape. They set out to prove that their phones could produce Hollywood-quality cinema, while also pushing content creators to raise the bar.

The timing is not lost on me. As Hollywood struggles to come back to life, and the flow of new cinematic content slows, more and more people are turning to their phones for their video entertainment. Apple is leaning into that void by demonstrating that the historical concept of “cinema” is no longer valid. Previously defined by its wide-screen format and expansive canvas, cinema is now vertical. 

Why it matters: By leaning into their heritage with content creators and tastemakers, Apple is once again redefining a category and positioning themselves as the quality bar to beat. They have done this for years, dominating popular culture and driving mindshare far greater than their market share would dictate. This holds true today, with Apple coming in a distant second in share to Android globally. But market share has never stopped Apple from behaving like a leader. Which is why they continue to be the brand of choice for creators who take their craft seriously. 

The details: The 9-minute launch film was created by TBWA/Media Arts Lab and was directed by Academy Award-winning director, Damien Chazelle, whose previous works include Whiplash and La La Land. It takes viewers on a journey through numerous film genres and is packed with amazing stunts and camera techniques. All shot on iPhone.

Burger King: Safe Order Masks

I love a great stunt. Let me rephrase that—I love a great stunt that is done well. Burger King Belgium is about to launch a social campaign that caught my eye because of its authenticity. Now Burger King is no stranger to game-changing creativity and stunts that drive virality. But this one is a bit different because of how personal it is to their fans.

We have all seen a lot of marketing lately with face masks. And every brand is trying to figure out how to balance their need to market with a desire to be sensitive to the situation we are all going through. But few have found a way to do so with such a laser-sharp focus. 

As more and more people are moving about, interacting with others through a mask can be challenging. It is particularly difficult to talk or to be heard. I find myself constantly asking people to repeat themselves. I can only imagine how this is magnified for restaurant and hospitality workers. 

Burger King decided to have a little fun with the current state of human interaction, by creating masks with people’s orders written on the front. So instead of engaging in an awkward conversation, you simply pull up to a drive-thru wearing your mask. It is a great way to let the personality of their brand shine through, even in the face of a difficult situation. 

One thing I have learned over the years is this—fans use products, but they love brands. Burger King understands that and has created something here that not only ignites fan passion but also empowers their advocacy. Because the way you get one of these limited-edition face masks is to engage with their brand in social media. It is a great example of how you can create energy out of obstacles. 

Why it matters: This campaign brings emotion back into an otherwise emotionless experience. It is hard to interact with people without seeing 50% of their face. But it would be hard not to smile when wearing this mask. It brings life and energy back into Burger King stores and will create a massive wave of sharable moments for their brand.

The details: The campaign was developed by Burger King Belgium. Fans comment on social media to claim one of 500 masks featuring their order. The campaign will begin in early September. And while 500 seems like a low number, might I remind you that you are reading this in a newsletter written on the other side of the world from where this is happening. The number of masks is not the number that matters most. 

Nike: “You Can’t Stop Us”

Admittedly, I am a little late to the party on this one. This ad has been discussed for a few weeks now. The inspirational message is timely, and the editing is quite simply, brilliant. I have no doubt this will be an awards magnet in the coming year. But even though I love both the message and method, that is not why I included it here.

The beauty of this video is how its complexity is masked by its simplicity and flow. Having spent more than 25 years in marketing, I know how difficult it is to make something feel simple and elegant. But that is what sets Nike apart. They are experts at subtraction. Much like a sculptor that strips away anything that does not belong, Nike keeps only what is necessary for the narrative. And they resist the common urge to say more.  The result is powerful.

Athletes are very familiar with the concept of “flow”—when everything is in perfect balance, working the way it was designed and you are at your peak performance. But this is the first time I have seen the concept of flow brought to life in advertising. It is not something that is spoken about or perhaps even intended. But it is present nonetheless. The connection between one scene to the next. The relationship between one athlete and another. Disparate scenes from 24 sports pulled from decades of footage all coming together in perfect harmony.  

Why it matters: While others aim their marketing at their products, Nike aims theirs at life. Their narratives are through the lens of sport, but rarely about the sport itself. In a world that emphasizes our differences over the things we share in common, sport is a thread that binds us together. And even though there are far more things that unite us than divide us, we tend to shine a spotlight on the latter vs. the former. Nike understands the unifying power of sport and tackles tough issues using sport as a common language. Because movements require a starting point. 

The details: To create “You Can’t Stop Us,” Wieden+Kennedy went through 4,000 hours of footage to find the perfect scenes to stitch together. There are 24 different sports represented in the video that is eloquently narrated by soccer star Megan Rapinoe.

Robert Matthews is the founder and managing partner of Swiftwater Group and former head of global integrated marketing at Xbox. His company helps leaders “create bigger waves” for their businesses, brands and the world–building iconic brands people love, creating desire with modern storytelling and igniting fan passion to drive cultural relevancy.   

Forever 21 And 7-Eleven Launch Capsule Collection With AR Slurpee Hologram And TikTok Dance Challenge

Forever 21 and 7-Eleven just launched a 16-piece capsule collection featuring graphic hoodies and tie-dye shirts emblazoned with the 7-Eleven, Big Gulp and Slurpee logos. The merchandise is available to shop for a limited time on Forever 21’s website and app.

To promote the #F21X7ELEVEN collection, Forever 21 created an augmented reality-powered Slurpee hologram lens users can access on the Forever 21 app. Upon scanning the floor with their mobile phone then tapping the screen, a hologram of hip hop dancer Natalie Bebko dancing while drinking a Slurpee will appear. Fans can snap a picture with her then share it on social media.

In addition, the brand created a TikTok dance challenge urging users to show off their “best Big Gulp moves” in videos tagged with #F21X7ELEVENCHALLENGE.

F21 is giving consumers a chance to win $100 worth of apparel from the collection. To enter, they have to guess the difference between two similar photos of the collection in a carousel post on Forever 21’s Instagram, comment what the difference is, tag two friends and include the hashtag #f21sweepstakes. One winner will be announced on August 17.

The brand chose dance influencers to model the merchandise across TikTok and Instagram, including Bebko, or @nat_bat_, who has over half a million Instagram followers, and micro-influencers @itslilct and @alainiwalker.

In a 20-second video posted to Forever 21’s TikTok, where it has just over 7,000 followers, the influencers are shown wearing pieces from the collection while dancing in a 7-Eleven store, zooming around in a golf cart and enjoying Slurpees.

From hoodies to tees (both short and long-sleeve), the athleisure-inspired collection includes vintage renditions of 7-Eleven’s most popular logos against backgrounds of tie-dyed pastels, reds and whites. Prices range from $15 to $35.

The online-only collection comes as one of Forever 21’s parent companies, Simon Property Group, reported a decline in earnings and sales after its retail properties were closed for nearly 10,500 shopping days due to the pandemic.

Compared to last year’s income of $495.3 million, this year Simon Property Group reported profits of $254.2 million. Its revenues also took a hit in Q2, reaching $1.06 billion by the end of June, versus $1.4 billion in Q2 2019.

Planters Debuts New Peanut Jr. Mascot For A Contest It’s Running And Twitter Isn’t Thrilled

Planters has debuted yet another mascot named Peanut Jr., the grown-up version of Baby Nut—who originally appeared as a reincarnation of Mr. Peanut after the brand killed off Mr. Peanut in its 2020 Super Bowl ad—to launch a contest called #MakeMyBirthdayNuts. Now through August 24, Planters is giving people who celebrated or will celebrate their birthday in quarantine a chance to win $2,100 in cash.

In a 19-second video posted to his Twitter account, Peanut Jr. is shown handing his driver’s license to a bartender who confusedly asks:

“Wait, so you’re telling me you fell off a cliff, came back to life as a baby and now you’re 21?”

“Yeah, yeah, it’s been a weird year,” Peanut Jr. responds.

Planters is giving three fans each $2,100 for sharing their dream birthday gift in 10 words or less on Twitter with the hashtags #MakeMyBirthdayNuts and #Sweepstakes and the @MrPeanut handle tagged. Planters is also giving away 200 prize packages that include branded merchandise.

The video, which has received 2.8 million views and 11,000 retweets in just a day, drew mixed reactions from Twitter. Users were quick to criticize Peanut Jr.’s birthday announcement for happening too soon after Baby Nut’s debut. One user said:

Another called Planters’ move “legitimately way too weird of a campaign.”

Others questioned Peanut Jr.’s decision to go to a bar in the middle of a pandemic.

In February, Planters ran a controversial Super Bowl ad showing its original mascot, the 104-year-old Mr. Peanut, sacrifice his life to save his commercial co-stars Wesley Snipes and Matt Walsh. To date, the spot has over 7 million views on YouTube. Then, on Super Bowl day, the brand unveiled a new mascot: Baby Nut.

Peanut Jr.’s arrival comes on the heels of a strong Q2 for Planters’ parent company Kraft Heinz, which reported a 3.8 percent increase year-on-year in net sales to $6.6 billion. However, the company reported a net loss of $1.65 billion due to impairment charges, according to Kraft Heinz’s earnings report.

The company says 75 percent of new buyers since the pandemic started are buying products from its brands, including Planters, Kraft Mac & Cheese, Philadelphia, Ore-Ida and Capri Sun.

Chipotle Debuts Online Apparel Collection After Digital Sales More Than Tripled In Q2

Using its leftover avocado pits, Chipotle is launching a sustainable line of apparel and accessories made with organic cotton called Chipotle Goods, all profits from which will benefit organizations advancing sustainability in fashion and farming. To promote the collection, Chipotle is teaming up with influencers to host a pop-up shop on Depop, where it will drop customized goods in real-time.

Timed for National Avocado Day, Chipotle Goods features apparel and branded unisex gear dyed with upcycled avocado pits. In a 30-second video spot, Chipotle shared how its heavy consumption of avocados—its restaurants are left with 300 million avocado pits per year— sparked the idea to collect, soak and simmer the pits to produce the light beige natural dye for the collection. Each piece requires five avocado pits, which amounts to five orders of guacamole.

Items like a bomber jacket and customizable graphic tees comprise the collection, which Chipotle says is “focused on size inclusivity, gender-neutral pieces and features unisex sizing on most products.”

Starting today, Chipotle’s 15 million reward members have exclusive access to the Chipotle Goods digital store using a special password shared via email. Chipotle will open the collection to the public on August 4.

On August 5, Chipotle will feature its Goods during a live Depop pop-up shop with mega influencers Avani Gregg, Natalie Mariduena, SpencerX and DevonOnDeck.

In 2012, Chipotle started buying uniforms from organic cotton farmers, making it one of the biggest US buyers of Global Organic Textile Standard cotton.

Chipotle’s uniform partner Loomstate created many of the collection’s items using energy-efficient materials. It’s the fast-casual chain’s hope that using Loomstate’s organic cotton will help prevent the use of synthetic pesticides. In 2019 alone, Chipotle prevented approximately 1.7 million pounds of synthetic pesticides from being used through its purchase of Loomstate employee uniforms.

Chipotle’s foray into merchandise coincides with an SMS guessing challenge it launched called “Unlock the Guac” as part of its yearly celebration of National Avocado Day on July 31. Chipotle is giving 52 of its rewards members a chance to win a year’s worth of free guacamole by correctly guessing the secret password for one of its six Chipotle Rewards accounts.

Despite challenges due to restrictions on indoor dining, Chipotle had a solid Q2—revenue declined 4.8 percent to $1.36 billion, but still beat expectations at $1.32 billion. In addition, digital sales surged 216 percent while comparable sales declined 9.8 percent. In July, comparable sales have increased 6.4 percent.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: The Rules Don’t Apply

Ayzenberg creative director Gary Goodman explores his top picks for the most resonant campaigns he’s seen in the wild. This week, Gary is turning his attention to creative campaigns that draw knowingly and unknowingly from the fact that the rules we were living, operating and communicating by pre-pandemic no longer apply.

I’ve got quite a fun range to share this week: there’s cinematic video game badassery, a mythical journey into the world of haute couture and a comedic look at something we are all way too familiar with: WFH chaos. Watch our snapshot above or the full versions of my picks below.

“The Whole Working-From-Home-Thing”  –  Apple

Let’s get going with the latest comedic romp from Apple.

Why it matters: Apple reintroduces us to the “Creative Team” that we first met in April from the 3-minute spot “The Underdogs.” Now they’re back in this nearly 7-minute sequel, but the tone of the film has evolved into more of a comedic romp. Back in April (pre-quarantine for those that remember April), Apple used a more inspirational storyline to show how their fictional team collaborated to pull off a seemingly impossible assignment using its products.

Three months deep into the surreal WFH landscape and there’s way more to have fun with. Content-wise, every cliche in the book is on display—but that’s the fun of it—almost like watching a Zucker Brothers film where there’s a joke every twenty seconds. They don’t all have to land but the sheer volume keeps you hooked. I even learned a few things about how to use their products that I hadn’t even considered.

The details:  The aspect that resonates with me is the underlying message that we may all be doing some of the best work of our careers right now. It might be messy and uncomfortable. Maybe none of the rules of yesterday apply today (but who knows about tomorrow?). Maybe it’s because of this that we’re exiting our safety zones, rethinking our approach to almost everything. I’d like to think that fundamental change at this level makes us all rise to new heights. It certainly has for me and my team.

Far Cry 6 Opening Cinematic – Ubisoft / Antibody

At first blush, what appears as the opening for the next Bond film or a new streaming binge-a-thon is actually for the next installment in Ubisoft’s Far Cry franchise.

Why it matters: As games continue to rival Hollywood franchises in their scope and scale, it’s no surprise that for this year’s entry of the Far Cry series, Ubisoft turned to Emmy Award-winning director Patrick Clair to sum up the themes of the new installment, this time set in Cuba. If the work looks familiar, it’s probably because Patrick was the creative force behind opening title sequences for shows like True Detective, Westworld, The Man In The High Castle, American Gods and Halt And Catch Fire. He’s an expert at using simple iconography, beautifully filmed, to land the tone of a franchise and layer in the unexpected. It hooks you instantly.

The details: According to Clair, “the creative team behind Far Cry 6 wanted to introduce the game in a way reminiscent of television main titles. The world they’ve created is rich with history, culture, and imagery. It’s a land of cyclical violence and bloody revolutions.”  He goes on to say, “we wanted to evoke a time of conquistadors with the uprisings of the 20th century…the fascinating world of circular history translated into a poetic string of symbols centered around the icon of a circle.” Sign me up!

Dior Autumn-Winter 2020-2021 Haute Couture

For anyone that knows me, this last one will probably surprise you. Let’s enter into the world of haute couture

Why it matters: It’s generally expected that in fashion, the season’s newest lines are launched alongside glitzy fashion shows and parties filled with tastemakers and celebrities. But these are not normal times. Expectations are being flouted, so no place better to do that than in high fashion. Introducing Christian Dior’s short film for Winter 20-21, an evocative dreamscape filled with fairies and dryads. And the real magic of it is that this film not only captures the beauty and story behind each meticulously constructed piece of Dior’s newest line; it also weaves itself into the very fabric of our collective myths and fairytales and elevates these images through the power of shared storytelling and sheer imagination. Designer Maria Grazia adds: “Surrealist images manage to make visible what is in itself invisible. I’m interested in mystery and magic, which are also a way of exorcising uncertainty about the future.”

The details: Dior brought on the talented Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone who had explored similar dreamlike territory in his filmTale of Tales’ starring Salma Hayek and John C. Reilly. The stunning Garden of Ninfa located just outside of Rome is where all of the outdoor magic happens. The miniatures and the trunk being carted through the forest by bellhops is a nod to the ‘Théâtre de la Mode’ of the 1940s: a traveling exhibit of miniature mannequins placed in realistic sets wearing the latest designs, all done in an effort to help revitalize the fashion sector after the war in Europe.

Diageo’s CMO For Europe, Amrit Thomas, Departs

Updated throughout the week of July 20th, 2020.

This week in leadership updates, Diageo’s European CMO departs, Schnuck Markets names a new chief marketing officer and Land O’Lakes brings on Heather Malenshek as CMO.

Diageo’s Chief Marketing Officer For Europe, Amrit Thomas, Departs

Diageo Europe CMO, Amrit Thomas, has left the company after their business shifted from a single central market structure to a regional market model, Campaign reports.

Each market has a marketing and innovation director. Anita Robinson will assume the role for Great Britain.

Thomas served as Diageo’s European CMO since 2018. Prior to that, he was president and CMO for Diageo India for nearly five years.

Schnuck Markets Hires Bill Bradley As Chief Marketing And Communications Officer

According to Supermarket News, Schnuck Markets is bringing on Bill Bradley as CMO, effective August 3.

Bradley’s background includes 29 years at Anheuser-Busch, most recently in the position of VP of community affairs.

Land O’Lakes Names Heather Malenshek As Chief Marketing Officer

Land O’Lakes has appointed Heather Malenshek as CMO. Malenshek will oversee the brand’s business-to-consumer and business-to-business branding and marketing strategy, as well as the Land O’Lakes subsidiary FLM Harvest.

Malenshek joins Land O’Lakes from Harley-Davidson Motor Company, where she was CMO.  

Washington Names Terry Bateman Executive Vice President And Chief Marketing Officer

The Washington NFL franchise is bringing on Terry Bateman as EVP and CMO to lead its marketing efforts and brand revamp.

Bateman has over 40 years of executive experience in the sports, entertainment and media industries.

The move comes after the team retired its name and logo, which included the racial slur “Redskins.”

Lowe’s Appoints Lisa Schoder As Vice President, Integrated Media And Partnerships

Lowe’s has hired Lisa Schoder as VP, integrated media and partnerships, to oversee the company’s communications channel planning and strategy for key marketing partnerships.

Schoder joins Lowe’s after 21 years with Ford Motor Company, where she most recently served as the head of US media, digital optimization and multicultural marketing.

TravelPerk Hires Tal Zohar As Chief Marketing Officer

Tal Zohar was named TravelPerk’s new CMO.

Zohar joins TravelPerk after 10 years with, where he held a series of senior roles, including online marketing director and vice president of business analytics and data science.