Virgin Global Chief Brand Officer Lisa Thomas To Step Down

This week in leadership updates, Virgin global chief brand officer Lisa Thomas steps down, Condé Naste appoints Yashica Olden as global chief diversity and inclusion officer, Roku’s CMO Matthew Anderson exits, Vice Media hires Nadja Bellan-White as its first-ever CMO and the Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) names Christina Radigan as CMO.


Virgin Global Chief Brand Officer Lisa Thomas To Step Down

Lisa Thomas, Virgin global chief brand officer and Virgin Enterprises managing director, is leaving the company after four years in the role.

Thomas’ departure comes amid a leadership restructure that aims to bring Virgin’s loyalty program, Virgin Red, and the Virgin brand under a single leader.


Condé Naste Names Yashica Olden As First-Ever Global Chief Diversity And Inclusion Officer

Condé Naste has announced the appointment of Yashica Olden to global chief diversity and inclusion officer, the first role of its kind at the company.

Olden joins from WWP’s global culture team, where she served as the executive director of inclusion and diversity.  

The news comes as the publisher reverses the pay cuts it implemented at the start of the pandemic.


Roku Chief Marketing Officer Matthew Anderson Exits

Roku’s CMO, Matthew Anderson, is stepping down after seven years in the role to join Lupa Systems as a strategic advisor, according to Variety.

Anderson joined Roku in 2012 as a strategic adviser before being named the company’s first CMO in 2013.

Roku hasn’t identified a replacement for Anderson.


Vice Media Appoints Nadja Bellan-White As First Global Chief Marketing Officer

Nadja Bellan-White has joined Vice Media as the company’s first global CMO, reports Campaign. In her new role, Bellan-White will be responsible for unifying Vice Media’s five divisions, Vice.com, Vice News, Vice Studios, Vice TV and Virtue, under one pillar.

Bellan-White joins from Ogilvy, where she was executive partner and WPP team leader.


OAAA Names Christina Radigan As Chief Marketing Officer

The Out of Home Advertising Association of America (OAAA) has hired Christina Radigan as CMO, according to a press release. Radigan replaces outgoing CMO Stephen Freitas.

Prior to OAAA, Radigan served as director of marketing and communications at Omnicom’s OOH Strategic Business Unit from 2010 to 2016.

What Will They Remember?

(Originally aired October 6th on LinkedIn Live.)

On today’s episode of Listen In, Matt Bretz chats with director Sheldon Candis about how to thrive as a commercial director.

Topics range from how to stand out from a crowded field in 2020, the philosophy of “Yes And,” assembling your creative ‘tribe’ and how Sheldon’s first love, cinema, has led him to create emotionally resonant work with a strong connection to ‘the real.’


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 a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

WARC, Cannes Lions Initiative Gives Future Black Marketers Free Access To Educational Tools

After actively working to find an appropriate response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the WARC and sister company Cannes Lions—along with the 4A’s Foundation, the Association of National Advertisers Educational Foundation (AEF) and the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF)—have partnered with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Business Deans Roundtable to provide industry knowledge to future black marketers.

As part of the initiative, students from over 100 HBCUs across the nation will have free access to content on marketing creativity and effectiveness via the WARC and Cannes Lions’ The Work platforms, a commitment valued at $1 million per year.

The partnership follows the WARC’s launch of an ongoing content series and Black Lives Matter hub that aims to educate marketers on diversity and activism through WARC research, brand activism content, case studies and opinion pieces written by experts. One of these includes a poll by Kantar that found 40 percent of US consumers are more likely to consider buying from a company that takes a stand against racial injustice.

WARC has created five commitments to racial equality around its organization, team, content, product and marketing influence. Among them are a commitment to being an anti-racist and inclusive organization, recruiting and developing talent from black and diverse backgrounds, building a network of contributors and reviewing the structure, language and tagging of its product to accurately represent black communities.

This month, WARC will release its “Guide to Brand Activism in the BLM Era,” part of its long-term commitment to feature new voices on all topics, including the impact BLM has on marketing, in its content and future reports.

Timed to the UK’s Black History Month this October, WARC has also partnered with Black Cultural Archives to produce a series of filmed interviews on the history of black marketers, to be released soon.

Research has shown that the most ethnically and culturally diverse companies outperform less diverse peers on profitability. McKinsey & Company’s 2019 analysis found that the top-quartile diverse companies outperformed those in the bottom quartile by 36 percent in profitability.

How Afro-Latino Agency Founder Rudy Manning Is Using His Experience To Foster Black Leaders In Design

In a 2017 AIGA poll of 9,602 global designers, 73 percent of those surveyed were white, while only three percent were African-American. Three years later, amid a global push to eradicate systemic racism, the question remains: Where are the black designers?

We spoke with Rudy Manning, co-founder and chief creative officer of Pastilla Inc., a data-driven creative and marketing agency in Pasadena that has worked with brands like Microsoft, ESPN and Disney, to name a few. Manning, who’s been teaching design classes at ArtCenter College of Design since 2014, shares how he’s applying his experience as one of the few Afro-Latino agency founders and teachers in design to increase BIPOC representation and design awareness among black youth, an undertaking he and Ayzenberg are working to address together.

Tell us about your role as chief creative officer of Pastilla.

I’m the original founder on Pastilla’s side for the first 14 years of the company. I merged with Kremsa Digital two years ago. As a CCO of a smaller agency, at least in the beginning, I was in charge of the business operations, as well as the strategic creative vision of the agency and how I want to position ourselves as an agency and a team. In our industry, everything is driven by your team. Ultimately what makes the agency is its people, so that’s at the forefront of everything I do.

When Pastilla opened, running the agency was my focus. But over the past three years, I started thinking about my role as a designer of color and how I can create more awareness about design and advertising in the black community, because in my career I’ve rarely received a portfolio from a black designer.

How has Black Lives Matter and the pandemic affected your role as co-founder and CCO?

The pandemic has set the stage for what’s next as to how I look at the agency as a person of color. Starting an agency and sustaining its growth is a difficult thing. The focus for the first 12 years was getting it to run. The sad part is that that became the focus, which is great. But I have a voice, an experience and a mentoring attitude so now my goal is to expose black youth to the design field and to the fact that it can be a great career that gives a lot back to you. That story needs to be told so I’m hoping to do that more.

The first step is hiring diverse talent. Finding more designers of color requires you to be conscious of your hiring process. If you’re not conscious, like in the first year of running Pastilla, you don’t have a chance to stop and see if you’ve fostered a diverse and inclusive team. Now that Pastilla is running sufficiently, it’s easier for me to analyze it.

What did your path to co-founding Pastilla look like?

My first memory of graphic design was a third grade contest for which I had to create a logo for a science expo. I lived in Germany as a little kid. My dad was an artist, he studied architecture and so forth. We worked on this logo together and our logo won. I still didn’t really understand what it was, I was only eight. But I knew when I walked around school, everyone was wearing this logo I made, and that gave me confidence.

Around that time as well, my dad bought me a Commodore VIC-20. At nine years old, I had to basically code my own games. Those two things were the perfect combination early on that continue to be a conversation in my house. I’m thankful to have parents who understood there was an opportunity in the creative field even though they didn’t know what graphic design was. That was the spark.

What are some barriers to growing black leaders in design and advertising?

Educating the parents is a big part of making a dent in growing more black designers. Graphic design in general is an abstract term to a lot of people. Knowing that it’s a viable career choice is even harder. On top of that, going to college is expensive. Even if you do have college opportunities, it would almost be strange to choose to study art over all these other things. That level of understanding among the black community isn’t there. They’re not privy to the number of careers you can have within the arts. So then it doesn’t become a choice. The family pushes away that choice from the child even if it’s something they like because school is so expensive already, so why pick art?

When I was young, my mother started a janitorial business with her husband that scaled really quickly and provided really well for my brother and I. Seeing her entrepreneurial spirit and drive has inspired me. When I got out of school, I wanted to do art. Jose Caballer and I went to ArtCenter around the same time. He is a Puerto Rican Latino who speaks Spanish, so he’s someone I could relate to. He told me he’s going to study graphic design. At the time, I didn’t know what graphic design was. He described it as doing logos for MTV. That comment sparked my interest. And we’re still friends to this day.

Pastilla has created many different types of work in design. Can you tell us more about the agency’s vision?

Right out of school, I wanted to do it all—packaging, motion and interactive design. My portfolio showed it. When I started the studio, I wanted to continue that movement and think of design holistically as much as possible, like the Eames couple who saw art and design as one unit. We were doing commercials and documentaries, then we did a print campaign for Surface. Then we would do brand strategy for Microsoft Band. When you go too broad, you start to wonder, what is the thing that a client will remember you by? That started becoming a topic as we scaled. So the thread there ended up being branding, which funnels into many applications.

How do we give black youth the same type of exposure and connection to opportunities in design and advertising that you experienced organically?

As a mentor, I see students come in and out. Sometimes I think a student needs a lot of work and I’m not sure if they should even be in design or if they have passion for it. There have been times where that same student returns to my classes a year later, completely different. If they found it within themselves to continue to grow, they definitely grew. 

When you’re mentoring, you have to see it like you’re giving into something that isn’t going to have a direct return. Mentoring takes time. It’s incremental and cumulative. Someone somewhere else is going to take the baton. At some point, the dots are going to connect for the student. The problem is there aren’t enough black mentors in design that can serve as an example to black youth and show them if he can do it, I can do it too. It’s no different from seeing so many African American basketball players—kids grow up and think that’s the only option for them. That’s just one avenue, but the reason they look there is because they see themselves there most often.

Do you remember when you first realized black designers in advertising were underrepresented and have you noticed the same lack of diversity in your work environments?

I think it started at ArtCenter. I was one of two people of color. There were maybe a handful of people who were Latino. One student was from Kenya. Over the three years I was there, she and I were the only ones.

I can count on one hand how many people of color I worked with over 20 years in graphic design, maybe less. Some were in animation and other disciplines around graphic design. One person who I should mention was Denise Gonzales Crisp, who taught night classes while I was at ArtCenter. She’s now at North Carolina State University College of Design. I took those classes to prepare my portfolio for ArtCenter and she brought in this student to show his work. In comes this student with an afro haircut and I look at him and gasp, thinking oh my gosh, he’s black. He was a student at the time but she wanted us to see his work. I remember going, that’s amazing, he’s talented and he looks like me. His name is Tryone Drake, and he now teaches at ArtCenter as the only black graphic design instructor other than me. 

You recently joined the Slack channel, ‘Where are the Black Designers?” How did you discover it and what’s the channel’s mission?

Where are the Black Designers? is an initiative and platform for black designers. They have a Slack channel where black designers, educators and creators go to connect, learn about jobs and mentor other black designers. I just joined and I’ve been mentoring people. I just spoke with the founder of a new brand strategy consultancy. She’s been running the company for six months and I shared with her my thoughts.

I want to do more of that. Pastilla is looking for a project manager so I’m being more conscious of not looking in the typical network that I usually do, because I’ll probably get similar types of people. As an agency owner, I have to make a conscious effort to think about who we hire and where we look for potential hires. 

Can you share more about the work you’re starting with Price School?

Frederick K.C. Price III Schools is a value-based, college preparatory school in Los Angeles that Pastilla did some creative and marketing for. Two years ago, my wife created a beautiful short documentary film that ended up becoming a commercial for the school. When we first started working with them, the school was closing. We ended up helping keep it open. The school is primarily an African American school, and it has a 100% graduate rate and college acceptance rate. I didn’t see any graphic design programs there or discussion of arts programs other than theater and music. I knew in the back of my mind, I wanted to find a way to get more involved there with the arts program.

So I connected the ArtCenter with Price School and we’re coming up with ways to have designers like myself, Tyrone and other Latino instructors create curriculum, do tours, career workshops, design workshops and ultimately plant those seeds in students that might be creative. It’s about finding ways to have design related to them from the brands they buy to the shoes they wear to the music they listen to. I want to show them that graphic design is everywhere around them and there are opportunities beyond playing a sport, like designing the entire brand identity system or marketing campaign for a sports team.

What’s your ultimate goal for partnering with Ayzenberg to expose local black youth in Pasadena to design?

The overarching goal is to find ways to introduce more people of color to the possibility of design and art as a career. On a granular level, it’s about getting the percentage of black leaders in design and advertising closer to the percentage of the black population in the US. If around 10 percent of the US population is black, can we get that to five or seven percent? And how do we measure that?  Because if you look at other industries like music and sports, BIPOC representation is way higher.

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 a.network audience with actionable insights, enabling them to excel in their field.

Gary Goodman’s Creative Picks: Reimagining Sports

David Rielly, (GCD at space.camp, an independent agency within the a.network), 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 BudLight.com/Delivery, 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 a.network, 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.