Cheetos Creates Dance Move To Rally US Curling Team Support

Cheetos has created a new dance move called “The Curl” with the hopes of becoming a viral sensation—or at the very least, bring awareness to the USA Curling team.

The dance was released ahead of the USA Curling team’s competition in February, taking advantage of football fans gearing up for SuperBowl LII. Curling—a team sport played by two players on a rectangular sheet of ice—doesn’t get the kind of attention other sporting events do, despite being an official sport of the Winter Olympics since 1998. Cheetos called it “one of the country’s most underappreciated sports.”

Cheetos enlisted YouTube singer/dancer Todrick Hall to help create a curling equivalent to a touchdown dance. Fittingly, the activation also includes Washington Redskins tight-end Vernon Davis and football Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson.

A music video called “Teach Me The Curl” depicts Cheetos mascot Chester the Cheetah, Hall, Davis and Tomlinson teaching the US Curling team how to perform the dance move.

Dance sensations seem to pop up every couple of years, and Cheetos hopes to be the latest. In fact, the Curl bears a strong resemblance to the music and lyrics of the 2011 Cali Swag District hit single “Teach Me How to Dougie.”

The song and dance move, both created by Hall, taps into multiple demographics across music, dance, football, curling and fans of Cheetos snacks. On Hall’s channel alone, the video gained over 65,000 views in one day. Social media posts about the activation have also gained traction thanks to shares by curling teams and fans.

To completely seize on its promotional momentum, Cheetos will release limited-edition Winter White Cheddar Curls, available starting February 12. The new snack is prominently featured in the music video, complete with Chester the Cheetah curling on its package.

Falling in line with tongue-in-cheek food marketing trends, such as campaigns as Wendy’s savage Twitter account and KFC launching a chicken sandwich into space. Even Taco Bell started offering wedding services at its quick service locations. Cheetos calls its food marketing “mischievous,” promoting its cheese-flavored snacks with mobile games, branded accessories and line of luxury apparel. Most recently, the brand partnered with Regal Theaters in December to offer “Cheetos popcorn”—flavored popcorn mixed with crunchy Cheetos—at participating theaters across the US.

 

 USA Curling Team

American Adults Prefer Legacy Media; Gen Z Embraces Streaming Video

American Adults Haven’t Forgotten About Legacy Media

According to research by eMarketer, the increasing shift to digital media has not entirely left other formats behind. In 2017, US adults spent significantly more time with non-digital radio than with social media. On average, consumers spent 96 minutes per day listening to radio, compared to only 51 minutes on social media.

Tablet usage is likewise underappreciated, per eMarketer’s analysis. Though tablets make up a minority of content consumption, it is still a significant figure. On average, American adults spend 72 minutes per day using tablets for non-voice activities.

EMarketer predicts that these ratios in media consumption are unlikely to drastically shift in the near future, declaring the era of “wild volatility” over. In the next year, eMarketer predicts only single-digit changes to any media consumption rates.

Teens Move On To Streaming

Among Gen Z, those born between 1996 and 2011, only the most cutting-edge media platforms will do. Per a study by Awesomeness, 71 percent of teenagers’ entertainment consumption comes from streaming services. Teenagers prefer to consume on mobile devices, watching 34 percent of their content on smartphones, compared to 26 percent on PCs and 24 percent on televisions.

“Creating mobile-optimized content that’s platform specific, direct, and entertaining is essential for brands to reach Gen Z,” said Harley Block, senior vice president of brand partnerships for Awesomeness. “They watch 68 videos in a day—meaning this audience has the ability to sort through content faster than ever before.”

YouTube provides the plurality of this entertainment at 34 percent of the total content consumed, with Netflix in second place at 27 percent. Television significantly lags, with live TV making up 14 percent of total video consumption and premium TV representing just 5 percent.

Streaming Video And TV Steadily Diverging

Pricewaterhouse Coopers has released its annual US internet user poll, revealing a steady decline in interest in linear television, with only 73 percent subscribing to traditional TV providers. By comparison, in 2016 that figure was 76 percent, and in 2015 it was 79 percent. Streaming video services have reached equal saturation, with 73 percent reporting a Netflix subscription.

However, one cohort is growing faster than cord-cutters or cord-nevers: cord-trimmers, or consumers scaling back the amount they pay for linear TV packages. In 2017, 37 percent of cable subscribers self-identified as cord-trimmers.

Even though time spent with non-digital television is steadily declining, it still takes up much more of the average day than digital video, with an average of 238 minutes watched daily.

While ad breaks during paid-for cable television are something consumers have come to expect, they are far less tolerant of them on streaming video platforms. According to a survey by IBM Cloud Video, 72 percent of consumers believe that any ads will detract from their viewing experience, with 60 percent disliking even relevant, targeted ads. This means that advertisers likely won’t be able to use Netflix’s movie-recommendation algorithm to target pre-roll ads anytime soon.

Gift-Giving Drives Smart Speaker Adoption

Smart home products are often “recommended” in the form of gift-giving, according to a new study by Scripps Networks Interactive made available to AListDaily.

Research by VentureBeat backs up this analysis. The Amazon Alexa and Google Home apps were the first and second most-downloaded apps on the Google Play store on Christmas Day, indicating heavy adoption as gifts. By comparison, the apps ranked seven and 37 on Google Play charts at the same time in 2016, respectively.

For consumers who purchase connected appliances for themselves, three key lifestyle milestones trigger smart home adoption: home renovation, moving to a new home and an increase in household income.


(Editor’s Note: Our weekly reports post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, January 5. Have a new report, study or insight to share? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.)

Insightful CES 2018 Events Off The Show Floor

There is nothing better than decompressing during a holiday break only to jump straight into the world’s largest tech show in CES shortly thereafter—in Las Vegas no less. Sin City will soon turn into a weeklong, cross-town gathering for a boatload of brands, C-suite executives and celebrities for the 51st installment of CES.

For marketers whose calling card is to thrive on the business of consumer technologies, the annual show offers a comprehensive look into transcending industries and stimulating emerging markets.

Tech, brands, Hollywood and marketing will collide—mostly at C Space in Aria—throughout the entire week as leaders will explore topics like how the business of content distribution is changing the future of media, marketing, advertising and entertainment industries.

If you ever find yourself lost, distracted or splurging life savings on the slot machines, point yourself back to Aria, since most of the CES programming there is likely up your alley.

Marketers have already prognosticated that this year’s CES will serve as a springboard to monitor how disruptive innovations like blockchain, voice assistants, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, among others, are going to shape consumers and industries alike.

Since a wide majority of marketing executives are not in town for the press conferences and gadgets, they mostly skip the show floor and instead opt for more private sessions with panels, conference programs and meetings. With arranged libations seemingly within arm’s reach at all times, CES also somewhat doubles as a booze-filled party.

AListDaily will be soberly reporting from CES throughout the entire week (and attending a few parties at night, if the lithium body batteries allow). Come along for the ride.

Sunday, January 7

Unless you decided to celebrate the New Year in Las Vegas and already have MoneyGram on speed dial, this is likely your first official day in town to conduct business.

Grab your badge from any of the locations listed here and get ready for CES Unveiled if you’re an industry analyst (or member of the press). Brands like Liberty Mutual, LG and Johnson & Johnson and a slew of start-ups will showcase their new tech products.

CES Unveiled
5 to 8:30 p.m.
Shorelines Exhibit Hall at Mandalay Bay

Monday, January 8

If you haven’t scrubbed through the Advertising, Entertainment & Content sessions yet, do so—now. There is a smorgasbord of panels in marketing, advertising, gaming, VR, AR, music and more throughout the entire week that begin today. Sessions kick off at the Las Vegas Convention Center and Sands Expo (inside The Venetian) and later carry into C Space at Aria.

If you’re still exploring VR and AR as a strategy to see if it’s the best relationship between your brand and consumer, then head over to Digital Hollywood and check out:

VR/AR as a Branding Strategy
1 to 2 p.m.
Tech East, LVCC, North Hall, N258

MediaLink CES Kick-off Party
8 p.m. 12 p.m.
Encore at XS Nightclub
*By Invitation Only*

Senior executives who buy and sell media from creative and media agencies, chief marketing officers, media inventory holders, investment banking, private equity and venture capitalists, leading entertainment studio and entertainment executives, and select talent, will be in attendance.

Tuesday, January 9

Exhibitors at Tech East at the Las Vegas Convention and Tech West at Sands Expo officially open doors to the jam-packed showroom floors, and it will most definitely require a sanitizer bath and quarantine soon after. There are over 3,900 exhibitors, so channel into your inner Douglas MacArthur if you plan on seeing new products and map an efficient plan of attack that will win you many medals—maybe even at Cannes if you do it right.

Just one note: if you had intentions of sitting in on Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai, the chief dismantler of net neutrality protections, re-do your schedule because Pai has bailed on his CES speaking engagement.

Instead, you should check out the CMO panel featuring executives from Turner, Panasonic, Mastercard, Deloitte and The Economist, as they explain their approach to technology and share best practices in data, analytics and transparency as part of their business plan. For those who will not be at CES, this session will be livestreamed.

C Space Storytellers: CMO Panel
3:30 to 4:15 p.m.
Tech South, Aria, Level 1, Pinyon Ballroom

CES Opening Party
10 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Omnia Nightclub at Caesars Palace

What can happen at an open bar inside one of the city’s hottest nightclubs . . . on a Tuesday? You’re just going to have to hail a self-driving taxi to Caesars Palace and find out.

Wednesday, January 10

Variety’s Entertainment Summit
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Tech South, Aria

If looking to produce, monetize, market and distribute content for digitally savvy audiences, this day-long event featuring over 40 speakers from top companies will be worth your time. The summit is open to all CES registrants.

MMS After Hours
11 p.m.
Chandelier Bar at The Cosmopolitan
*By Invitation Only*

The occasional booze fest may be fun every once in a while, but if you’re a senior brand and agency marketer looking to connect with executives in the digital marketing industry in a more intimate manner, this mixer made possible by the Mobile Marketing Summit may be right for you.

Thursday, January 11

Social Innovation Summit
9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tech South, Aria

The full-day event—billed as the Tech for Good conference—unites over 500 corporate executives, grantmakers, celebrities, investors and social innovators for a series of programs, discussions and networking events centered around the role of technology in driving social impact. Themes include: 

Tech & Impact: Corporate pioneers achieving the bottom line of profits, people and the planet.
Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Creating platforms to diversify innovation for entrepreneurs, investors and corporations.
The Future of Work: The role of emerging technologies in educating new generations and creating the jobs of the future.

VR Fest
10 p.m. to 4 a.m.
Hakkasan Nightclub at MGM Grand

If you’re taking advantage of the VR, AR, mixed reality programming curated by the Virtual Reality Festival, head over to the VR Arcade at Hakkasan Nightclub.

Friday, January 12

C Space—one of the several marketer safe havens, remember?—is closed because it’s no longer offering programming. The Advertising, Entertainment & Content calendar is bone dry. There are just three conference sessions in total taking place across town (esports is one them). There are no more press conferences and news to take in. Las Vegas is a little darker than it was yesterday.

However, bleary-eyed exhibitors who burnt the midnight oil all week are in for business for one last day, so if you missed out on anything particularly special, now is the time.

Dig through the couch of your hotel room for any left behind bitcoins, and head over to McCarran International Airport. It’s time to go home.

Daily Harvest, Chicago Cubs, WGN Expand Marketing C-Suite

Highlights

Patrick Yee, former CEO of Laird + Partners, has joined food subscription start-up Daily Harvest as its CMO, which recently secured $43 million in funding from investors.

“It’s really about standing for something more than just our products,” Yee told WWD. “I think I’m bringing a content approach with my background with Refinery and certainly my stint at Laird as well.”

Before joining Laird + Partners, Yee served as executive vice president of marketing and strategy for Refinery29 for eight years.


The Chicago Cubs have hired Lauren Fritts as vice president of marketing, where she will oversee all of the team’s branding initiatives.

Prior to joining the Cubs, Fritts worked at Gatorade as director of consumer engagement, a role in which she led branded content and experiential marketing efforts.


WGN America has promoted Brian Dollenmayer to the position of chief marketing officer, an expanded role in which he will handle marketing efforts for both the network and Tribune Studios, WGN America’s original content arm.

Dollenmayer first joined WGN in 2013 as executive vice president of marketing and promotions, playing a part in the company’s transition from a Chicago-specific TV station to a national cable network.


Ron Perry has joined Columbia Records as its latest chairman and CEO, the record label announced.

“Ron is an immensely dynamic and forward-thinking executive who excels at bringing the best out of artistic vision,” said Rob Stringer, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment. “After his enormous success in recent years, we are thrilled to have Ron join Sony Music and lead the great team and unparalleled roster at the legendary Columbia Records label.”

Before signing on with Columbia, Perry served as president for Songs Music Publishing, signing Grammy-award winning artist Lorde, among others.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, January 5. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.)

Global information and analytics firm IHS Markit has announced the appointments of two new company directors, Lord Browne of Madingley and Nicoletta Giadrossi.

“We believe Lord Browne’s financial and energy industry expertise will enable him to contribute significant managerial, strategic and financial oversight skills,” said Lance Uggla, the company’s president and chief operating officer. “Similarly, Nicoletta’s extensive business experience in the industrial and energy sectors in Europe and her consulting and private equity background bring a unique perspective to the board.”

Lord Browne had served as the CEO of British Petroleum from 1995 to 2007, and since then served a joint head of renewable energy practice at Riverstone. Giadrossi most recently served as a senior advisor for Bain Capital Partners in Europe, since 2015.


Snap Inc. has hired Rahul Chopra as head of Stories Everywhere content, a product that has not yet been announced. According to a report from Cheddar, it will make Snapchat Stories available outside the app. No details on when or in what form Stories Everywhere will be released are currently available.

Chopra most recently served as CEO of Storyful, a social data agency subsidiary of News Corp, a position he departed in September.


Steve Butts, IGN’s editor in chief, has been dismissed from his position at the gaming news website after accusations of harassment.

“IGN initiated an investigation into alleged misconduct involving Steve Butts,” said Mitch Galbraith, IGN’s general manager. “As a result of the investigation, the company has appropriately determined to part ways with Mr. Butts.”

Butts has been with IGN since 2012.


Two Vice Media executives, president Andrew Creighton and chief digital officer Mike Germano, have been placed on leave shortly after the publication of an expose about sexual harrassment at the company by The New York Times

“Let’s be frank,” Sarah Broderick, Vice’s chief operations and financial officer, said in an email to staff, “we need more women and diversity throughout the organization.”


Hulu has promoted Julie DeTraglia to the newly created position of head of research, centralizing its insights and analysis teams under a single executive.

Before her promotion, DeTraglia served as head of ad sales research.


DJ Khaled announced a partnership with Weight Watchers, wherein he will serve as a social media ambassador for the brand’s new “Freestyle” program.

“DJ Khaled has an incredibly authentic drive and passion to inspire others through his wellness journey and experiences on WW Freestyle,” said Mindy Grossman, president and CEO of Weight Watchers. “By capturing and sharing his process, he will enliven and inspire his community, showing that it’s possible to integrate healthy habits into your life.”


Rob Lowe announced that he will serve as a brand spokesperson for Atkins Nutritionals, creators of the low-carb Atkins diet.

“The new campaign follows our ‘Today’s Atkins’ creative launched this past fall and continues to show that Atkins extends way beyond a diet,” said Scott Parker, chief marketing officer for Atkins Nutritionals. “Rob is a great representative of this lifestyle, as he has followed an Atkins low carb approach for years.”


Roku has tapped Scott Rosenberg to fill the now-vacant position of general manager of platform business, as the current one, Steve Shannon, has announced his departure.

“Steve joined Roku in the early days of our monetization strategy and was instrumental in developing key advertising, content and services initiatives as well as recruiting top talent like Scott,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood.

Rosenberg has been with the streaming platform since 2012.


David White has joined Accolade Wines as its United Kingdom marketing director. Previously, he served as director and general manager for Moët Hennessy Diageo Singapore.


Job Vacancies 

Product Manager – APIs Ayzenberg Pasadena, CA
VP of Marketing GE Healthcare Chicago, IL
Sr. Director, Sports Partnerships and Marketing Initiatives SiriusXM New York, NY
Sr. Director, Brand Marketing Capcom San Francisco, CA
Sr. Director of Partner Marketing The Walt Disney Company New York, NY
Director of Global Strategic Marketing  Johnson & Johnson Raritan, NJ

Make sure to check back for updates on our Jobs Page.

Spotify Reportedly Files For IPO

Spotify has confidentially filed for an IPO with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Axios first reported Wednesday. This is a further step in the music-streaming service’s plan to become the largest company in the US to ever pursue a direct listing for selling its shares later this year.

Taking advantage of recently relaxed SEC rules that permit companies of any size to get feedback and work out kinks for their IPO before notifying the public, Spotify will not have to publicly disclose its financial information until just two weeks before its shares become available. This private filing will also permit the brand, reportedly valued at $19 billion, to renege on its IPO entirely in the case of a market downturn, or fears over volatile stock.

Spotify may end up having to exercise this right, as its approach to its IPO is unprecedented for companies of its size. Rather than offer large, long-term investors first dibs on company stock, Spotify will put its shares directly on the New York Stock Exchange for anyone to purchase.

There’s a reason that large companies haven’t attempted direct listings before. Large investors interested in long-term gains are significantly less likely to quickly dump stock at the first sign of trouble, which keeps the company value much more stable. By sidestepping this cohort, the Spotify IPO is likely to see more volatile stock prices, especially early on.

But this tactic also carries a number of advantages—it’s much cheaper than the traditional IPO method and the current Spotify shareholders will not need to dilute the value of their own holdings.

It remains to be seen exactly how or when the Spotify IPO will play out, but its circumstances have been fairly shaky of late. Last week, Wixen Music Publishing filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against the company for allegedly using thousands of its songs without paying licensing fees.

Spotify has not commented on the legal matter and will proceed with the IPO nonetheless, according to Reuters.

Virtual Reality Finding Its Way Out Of ‘Trough Of Disillusionment’

In its second year on the consumer market, virtual reality has been challenged with getting out of the “trough of disillusionment”—a phase of disappointment that follows any heavily hyped technology trend—as it seeks acceptance and mass appeal.

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Hardware makers, content developers and tech giants like Facebook and Google remain committed to helping the industry grow, and this year alone saw Hollywood further embrace the technology to create memorable movie promotions, leading more celebrities to become involved with VR.
  • HTC and Oculus cut their hardware prices, with the latter launching a large-scale campaign over the summer to grow adoption while IMAX debuted its first VR arcades in the US.
  • Sony reported that over 2 million PlayStation VR headsets and 12.2 million VR games were sold worldwide, in addition to 70.6 million PlayStation 4 consoles.
  • Intel launched its VR esports initiative.
  • Both Apple and Google are bringing support to augmented reality.
  • Microsoft is partnering with hardware companies to make mixed reality headsets, while HTC and Oculus both announced wireless headsets for next year.

But people are still optimistic about the technology. While Stephanie Llamas, SuperData’s VP of research and strategy, says the industry isn’t growing as quickly as many expected, VR still grew 24 percent year-over-year—from $1.8B to $2.2B—as a result of steady headset sales and higher content demand.

While Tony Parisi, Unity Technologies’ global head of VR/AR strategy, agrees that hardware adoption has been slower than predicted, he said that there has been significant uptick in other areas of VR.

“Overall, we’re seeing increased VR adoption across the enterprise, with more organizations moving from proof-of-concept to real-world deployment,” he said. “We’re also seeing VR applications across medical, film and entertainment and creative, proving that the wide-scale opportunity for VR is real.”

Parisi also pointed out that VR investments jumped 79 percent in the second half of 2017, indicating that industries are doubling down on the technology. That’s in addition to how over a million headsets were shipped in Q3 due to price cuts and growing consumer awareness. “All in all, it’s been a bit of an up-and-down year for VR, but there are positive signs that VR is nearing the end of the ‘gap of disappointment,’” he said.

Frank Azor, VP and GM at Alienware, Gaming and XPS at Dell, thinks high expectations led to disappointment, but sees the sale of 3 million VR headsets this year as success. “[It would be] a monumental success for any one-to-three products to sell that many units, so I don’t get how that’s regarded as a failure,” he said. “[VR has done] better than the first or second year of the first Windows tablet, and [has been] more successful than the first notebooks and gaming consoles in their first and second years. Plus, there were 2 million sold last year, which means there were at least 5 million headsets sold.”

Azor isn’t alone in his optimism.

“Every major tech company has a VR strategy and their own headsets,” said Baobab Studios CEO Maureen Fan. “There are so many more opportunities for creators now. VR is also becoming more social. However, we still need a lot more high-quality content for VR to become mainstream. We also need more universally appealing content that draw new audiences into VR.”

Baobab and Hollywood studios have been focused on creating content that appeals to broad audiences through VR experiences such as Invasion!, Asteroids! and Rainbow Crow featuring musician John Legend. Invasion! won an Emmy in 2017, and Baobab announced that it is partnering with Roth Kirschenbaum Films (Maleficent; Alice in Wonderland) to adapt the VR short to traditional 2D screens.

“Distributors have released data that shows that VR experiences and films rival games in views,” Fan explained. “For example, Invasion! beat out games when it launched. We think they complement each other and rising tides lifts all boats. VR experiences and films bring in new audiences to VR and are crucial to increasing VR adoption.”

“The public puts a high premium on celebrity-endorsed goods and content,” Llamas added. “Having someone like John Legend doing Rainbow Crow or Obama in an Emmy-winning 360 video legitimizes the tech in the eyes of mainstream consumers. It’s hard for them to get access to headsets and make their own opinions about it, so trendsetters like celebrities help pique people’s curiosity and consumption.”

Parisi noted that quite a few high-profile Hollywood studios have become involved with VR, with the technology being an immersive extension to storytelling and film. As examples, he highlights CocoVR, Blade Runner 2049: Memory Lab, in addition to Unity’s partnership with Lionsgate this year to debut Virtual Room advertisement for Jigsaw—demonstrating the opportunities VR provides for brand marketing.

“What we found is VR ad experiences elicit greater emotional response, and massively higher engagement rates than any other platform,” Parisi said. “They show that people are more immersed with the brand. For example, the Jigsaw Virtual Room ad saw 6X the video completion rates of skippable video. We hope to see this type of brand marketing continue in 2018 and help push the widespread consumer adoption of VR.”

But even as VR content diversifies, Fan admits that she is often asked if Baobab is making games or films due to their interactivity. So, it should be of little surprise that video games are getting a tremendous amount of attention, with Bethesda launching VR adaptations of its hit games Skyrim, Fallout 4 and Doom, and CCP launching a virtual sport called Sparc while Oculus partnered with Intel and Alienware to bring VR to esports.

Azor said that VR and esports was a fascinating combination because it fully brings together the athleticism of traditional sports with the limitless potential of video game environments.

“To us, what VR and esports fuse the best of those two things and creates a new level of competition and athleticism that I don’t think we’ve ever seen before,” said Azor. “We think that’s a cool opportunity, even though we don’t know entirely where it goes. It’s something that we see bubbling up and emerging, and we’re trying to help feed it and kick it off. That’s why we created the Alienware VR Cup, partnering with Oculus and Nvidia.”

Although VR seems to be finding its stride, it’s hard to overlook how both Google and Apple are showing strong support for augmented reality. Devices such as the iPhone X appear to be driving enthusiasm, but Fan asserts that—while AR platforms are promising—they will probably experience the same cycle VR is going through.

“AR is an exciting new area for creators to engage with a new audience that have yet to try VR,” said Fan. “For both AR and VR platforms, it comes down to creating great content. AR through your phone is immediately accessible, just like 360 VR videos  are immediately accessible. However, it’s all about the quality of the content. AR goggles will still take time and will go through the natural tech cycle that VR and other tech goes through.”

“AR and VR offer different experiences for consumers,” Parisi added. “What we are seeing now with AR is that there is a real and tangible opportunity to reach more consumers. This is largely due to the fact that AR is no longer the future—it’s available today and it will be available on more than 1 billion devices in the marketplace by the end of 2018.”

Llamas agreed that VR and AR are fundamentally different technologies, with different use cases and experiences. She said that, “2018 will be about realigning expectations and helping consumers and the industry alike understand the important differences between the two so they understand they are not mutually exclusive, and we can be excited about both!”

Sega Turns Parkour Gym Into Real-Life ‘Sonic Forces’ Level

Platformer video games like Sonic Forces are designed to inspire virtual adrenaline, but Sega decided to see how players would fare in a real-life platformer environment, so they created Sonic Forces Academy—dropping influencers into a freerunning and parkour gym.

Matthew Patrick (MatPat), Jirard Khalil (The Completionist) and Tom Cassell (Syndicate) gathered at the Tempest Freerunning Academy in California to try their hand at running and jumping in the activation, which was made to look like the iconic Green Hill Zone—a recurring level that appears across the Sonic franchise. When sections of the course became too difficult for them, expert athletes took over.

Sega’s activation—which will remain open after this launch for public access—is designed to promote Sonic Forces, its latest game launched in November.

“We were looking for a fun activation that could travel beyond core Sonic fans,” said Ivo Gerscovich, Sega chief brand officer. “We all liked the idea of giving high-profile YouTube influencers and gamers everywhere the opportunity to see what it would be like to try some of Sonic’s trademark moves in real life.”

Matt, Jirard and Tom were challenged with recreating such moves as wall run, spring jump, hoop dash, grappling hook and tag-team run. Much like the course itself, planning an activation of this nature took a considerable amount of effort and coordination.

“Sega’s marketing team spent months working with our agency, Ayzenberg,* to get the right folks involved and making sure the activation was accurate to the game,” said Nathan Shabazi, Sega associate brand manager. “This included providing lots of b-roll footage, 3D hi-res assets, and looking for some of the coolest moves in the game. After seeing the parkour and gaming influencers’ excitement upon using it, we knew we had something special.”

“We came together with Sega to put together an awesome celebration of Sonic and drive awareness of Sonic Forces going into the holiday,” Francesca Forgach, ION‘s VP of client services, told AListDaily. “We wanted to really establish a cohesive program that had multiple communication touch points across channels, promoted by influencers, driving excitement with their fans. We want fans to get hyped and excited, and want to participate in the custom parkour experience.”

Beyond the ideal timing of the activation, which allows consumers to keep Sonic Forces top of mind through the holidays, Sega’s social media manager, Aaron Webber expects Sonic fans will resonate strongly with the living game experience and the “join the uprising” tagline.

“We expect fans will be thrilled with the activation and the chance to experience part of Sonic’s world in our own,” said Webber. “In a day and age where we often find ourselves sitting in a single spot for hours at a time, it’s great to get up and get active.”

Hardcore fans who try out the parkour course will also appreciate its difficulty, which is on brand for a Sonic level.

“The reality is that we tried parts of the Tempest Green Hill Zone parkour course ourselves,” added Webber. “Not only were they even harder than they looked, but we now have an even greater appreciation for our blue blur.”

*Editor’s note: AListDaily is the publishing arm of Ayzenberg.

CORRECTION: Sega quotes were all previously attributed to Aaron Webber. Attributions have been updated to their respective sources.

Top ESPN, BET TV Execs Step Back; Domino’s CMO Promoted To International Team

Highlights

ESPN president John Skipper announced his retirement, citing struggles with substance abuse. George Bodenheimer, who served as ESPN’s president from 1998 to 2011, will take over in the interim while the network searches for a permanent replacement.

“I have great respect for John’s leadership, and I applaud the courage he’s demonstrating by addressing his challenge head on,” said Bodenheimer. “The most important thing right now for John and his family is that he conquers his addiction, and the entire ESPN family is behind him.”

Skipper has been with ESPN since 1997, when he joined as senior vice president and general manager of ESPN The Magazine. He has held his current position since 2012.


BET Networks announced the appointment of Scott M. Mills as president, taking over day-to-day operations from BET chairman and CEO Debra Lee, who is relaxing her control over the network.

“I have spent more than 20 years leading this incredible enterprise and I am so proud of the BET team and all that we have accomplished,” Lee said in a statement. “As I look to the future, I believe it is the right time to take a step back from day-to-day responsibilities at BET.”

Before taking over operations from the BET chairman, Mills served as executive vice president and chief administration officer for its parent company, Viacom. He has served as president of BET Networks once before, during which time he launched the channel’s mobile and digital video operations.


Domino’s Pizza is promoting Joe Jordan, its US chief marketing officer, to its international executive team. As executive vice president, Jordan will oversee global marketing efforts, focusing on growth in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Additionally, the company is hiring a new marketing executive, Art D’Elia, as senior vice president and chief brand and innovation officer for Domino’s US.

“As our brand becomes a global leader in markets around the world we have a chance to expand our great leadership and provide opportunities for exceptional performers,” said Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president and CEO. “We’re excited about this change, and the chance to share our resources and put proven leaders into positions we believe will help us accelerate our brand trajectory.”

Prior to becoming Domino’s Pizza’s top marketing executive, Jordan served as the pizzamaker’s CMO for three years, and was responsible for double-digit sales growth between 2015 and 2017. D’Elia previously was the chief marketing executive at Danone Dairy UBN, where he led marketing efforts in the UK, Ireland, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The Rest Of The C-Suite

Amusement park entertainment company Cedar Fair has tapped Tim Fisher as its latest chief operating officer.

“We are making significant, strategic, long-term investments within and adjacent to our parks,” said Richard Zimmerman, Cedar Fair president and CEO. “Tim’s significant industry experience, coupled with his extensive knowledge of our parks and target markets, will deepen our management team and help us fully capitalize on all of our park-level initiatives.”

Fisher joins Cedar Fair from Village Roadshow, another theme park operator, where he has served as CEO since 2009.


BFS Capital, a financial services provider for small businesses, has hired Mary Harris as its new CMO.

“I look forward to expanding our market presence and visibility across the US and building new and lasting relationships with our customers and partners,” Harris said.

Prior to signing on with BFS Capital as its head marketing executive, Harris served as senior vice president of marketing and public relations for BankUnited, helping the bank rebrand and earn accolades from Forbes.


Andrew Lustgarten has risen to the position of president of The Madison Square Garden Company (MSG).

“[Lustgarten’s] unique experience in sports, live entertainment management and corporate development will be critically important as we continue to focus on enhancing our core businesses and identifying compelling opportunities that further our presence and influence in live experiences,” said James Dolan, MSG’s executive chairman and interim CEO.

Lustgarten has been with MSG since 2014, when he joined as executive vice president of corporate development and strategy. Prior to that, he spent seven years at the NBA, where he held the position of senior vice president of global strategy.

Madison Square Garden is still looking for a new CEO, after David O’Connor departed the company in November.


Job Vacancies 

Director of Marketing Insights HP San Diego, CA
VP, Global Business Marketing Facebook Menlo Park, CA
VP of Marketing Bitly San Francisco, CA
VP, Worldwide Marketing Partnerships Paramount Pictures Hollywood, CA
VP/SVP of Marketing & PR Hugo Boss New York, NY
Integrated Brand Director, Global Influencer Marketing Nike Portland, OR

Make sure to check back for updates on our Jobs Page.

Vevo CEO Departs; Hilton, Pandora Bring In New CMOs

Highlights

Vevo’s president and CEO, Erik Huggers, is stepping down from his position. While the music service searches for a replacement, Vevo’s chief financial officer, Alan Price, will assume Huggers’ responsibilities.

Huggers had been with Vevo since 2015, which he joined from Intel’s online-TV division OnCue. At Vevo, he pushed to expand distribution beyond YouTube, which remains the service’s largest hosting platform.


Hilton has a new chief marketing officer, bringing in Kellyn Smith Kenny to oversee marketing strategy for all 14 of the company’s subsidiary brands.

Prior to joining the hospitality giant, Kenny was vice president of marketing for Uber, leading the brand’s efforts for the US and Canada. Before that, she served at Capital One as senior vice president of marketing.


The Interactive Advertising Bureau is mixing up its C-suite, appointing Patrick Dolan to the position of president and Anna Bager as executive vice president of industry initiatives.

“For over a decade, Patrick has been responsible for much of our organizational stability, proving himself to be an invaluable resource for the IAB leadership team, the board of directors and our members,” said IAB CEO Randall Rothenberg. “Likewise, Anna has a longstanding track record of guiding IAB and its members through dynamic shifts in the industry.”

Dolan has been with the IAB since 2007, serving as the organization’s chief financial officer and chief operations officer during his tenure. Bager is a comparatively recent hire, joining the IAB in 2011 to lead the IAB Mobile Marketing Center of Excellence and subsequently launching the IAB Video Center of Excellence.


Pandora has named Aimée Lapic as its latest chief marketing officer.

“Aimée brings to Pandora a deep customer focus and long track record of driving significant growth for consumer brands,” said Roger Lynch, president and CEO of Pandora. “She has the exact performance and partner marketing experience we need to take Pandora to the next level and expand our audience across all tiers of service.”

Lapic joins the internet radio company after a 13-year stint at the Gap, where she ascended to the level of CMO for Banana Republic, where her investments into paid social returned a more than 500 percent ROI.


Chris Bergstresser, president and chief operating officer of Sega Europe, has announced his departure just four months after joining the company. No reason was given, but Sega claims he departs the company on strong terms.

“On behalf of the whole business, I would like to thank Chris for his hard work, integrity and his professionalism during his time at the helm of Sega’s European operation,” said Tatsuyuki Miyazaki, CEO of Sega West.

Miyazaki will step in as interim president while the company searches for a replacement.


Meal-kit delivery service Chef’d has hired Jemie Sae Koo as vice president of marketing, hoping to expand the brand’s saturation among millennial and Gen Z consumers.

“Jemie brings an entrepreneurial, business-first approach to marketing programs,” said Kyle Ransdord, CEO of Chef’d. “At the heart of our business, we are driven to fully understand the needs of our customers and surpass their expectations.”

Sae Koo has created campaigns previously for Amazon, Disney, H&M and Coca-Cola.


P&G is undergoing several executive shifts. Charlie Pierce, head of its Gillette division, will be stepping down in March. Succeeding him will be Gary Coombe, P&G’s current European president of selling and marketing operations.

Additionally, Magesvaran Suranjan, president of selling and marketing operations for the Asia Pacific region, has had his role expanded to cover India, the Middle East and Africa.


The Rest Of The C-Suite

(Editor’s Note: Our weekly careers post is updated daily. This installment will be updated until Friday, December 15. Have a new hire tip? Let us know at editorial@alistdaily.com.)

Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment (BSE), owners of the Barclays Center, has hired Elizabeth Brooks as its latest chief marketing officer to oversee strategy for branding and advertising for all of the company’s teams and venues. Marilyn Hauser has also joined the company as senior vice president of programming for Barclays Center.

“We are now primed to support and continue BSE’s rapid growth with their diverse backgrounds in sports, entertainment, music and technology,” said Brett Yormark, CEO of Brooklyn Sports and Entertainment. “Both Elizabeth and Marilyn have proven success in their areas of expertise and will be strong leaders for our team.”

Before joining the sports brand, Brooks served as CMO and executive in residence for Sopris Capital Associates, a private equity firm. She has also held the title of CMO for both data-analyst firm Lucid and 3D cinema provider RealD.


CNN’s digital film unit Great Big Story has brought on Christine Cook as senior vice president of global sales and brand strategy, hoping to strengthen revenue strategies.

“Great Big Story is central to our multi-platform strategy and has already had considerable success internationally with over 15 brand partnerships from EMEA, APAC and Latin America and a local version launched in the Nordics,” said Rani Raad, president of CNN International Commercial. “As Great Big Story prepares for further expansion, I am delighted to add to our firepower someone of Christine’s caliber to work with our global teams and take brand integrations to the next level.”

Previously, Cook worked at Flipboard as its senior vice president and global head of advertising partnerships for six years, a founding member of its advertising business team.


Susan Kenney Cotter has joined the insurance provider Royal Neighbors of America as its CMO.

“We are pleased to welcome Susan to our executive team,” said Cynthia Tidwell, Royal Neighbors president and CEO. “Her extensive industry knowledge and marketing expertise, combined with her commitment to our philanthropic mission, are an important addition as we transform to a more robust member-centric organization and continue our growth trajectory.”

Prior to signing up with Royal Neighbors, Cotter held senior-level marketing positions at several other insurance companies, including Colonial Life and AIG.


Augmented reality firm Meta Company has hired Maneesh Dhir as COO.

“We are particularly excited to tap into Maneesh’s unique level of expertise in successfully building and scaling large organizations for long-term growth,” said Meron Gribetz, founder and CEO of Meta. “We know that Maneesh will be invaluable to helping Meta deliver on its vision.”

Before joining Meta, Dhir served as managing director at Apple India, and prior to that was executive vice president at AOL.


Roblox, a social platform and game for children, announced the following new hires: Jennifer Hedding (chief people officer), Daniel Williams (vice president of corporate and production engineering) and Matt Kaufman (vice president of product).


YouTube has brought on a new voice for its original content division, hiring Luke Hyams as its first-ever head of originals for the EMEA region.

“We’re in five markets and we’d like to launch in more, but it takes a bunch of time to get there, and we’d like to commission more content,” Matt Brittin, Google’s president of business operations for EMEA, told Variety.

Before signing on with YouTube, Hyams worked at Disney for its own digital content division.


Anaplan, a planning service provider, announced the hiring of Mara Pergolino as CMO.

“Maria is widely respected as an exceptional team builder and an accomplished enterprise software marketing executive, and we’re excited to welcome her to Anaplan,” said Frank Calderoni, president and CEO of Anaplan.

Prior to Anaplan, Pergolino was senior vice president of global marketing and sales development for Apttus, a revenue management firm. Before that, Pergolino was senior director of marketing for Marketo, a marketing automation software provider, where her efforts drove quadruple-digit growth.


Major League Baseball is undergoing executive reorganization, reassigning Tony Petitti, current COO, to the role of deputy commissioner of business and media, overseeing MLB’s marketing and revenue efforts. Additionally, Chris Park now holds the title of vice president of product and marketing.


Epitaph Records has expanded its marketing team, promoting Hope Selevan as vice president of marketing and digital strategy. Additionally, the label has promoted Matt McGreevey as general manager.

“I’d like to thank Brett Gurewitz for giving me this opportunity and to acknowledge the amazing job that Dave Hansen, my predecessor, has done for the last 21 years,” McGreevey said in a statement. “I have incredibly large shoes to fill and am honored to be part of such an amazing label.”

Both executives previously held the title of director of marketing. Selevan joined Epitaph from New West Records in 2015, where she also served as director of marketing.


Digital-media startup Inverse has appointed David Spiegel as chief revenue officer.

“Inverse is doing the impossible by building an owned audience in the age of distributed media,” Spiegel said.

Prior to Inverse, Spiegel was senior vice president of sales and brand strategy at Great Big Story, and was also vice president of brand strategy and partnerships at BuzzFeed.


Jessica Verrilli, Twitter’s vice president of corporate development and strategy, is stepping down after nine years at the company. Though Verrilli has not declared her concrete next steps, she plans to expand her role at HelloAngels, her investment collective.

“Now I’m looking forward to the holidays and perhaps a literal marathon, now that I have no excuses for not training,” Varrelli posted on her Twitter account. “I’m excited to spend more time investing with HelloAngels and figuring out what’s next.”


Job Vacancies 

Sr. Brand Manager, Local Marketing T-Mobile Redondo Beach, CA
Director of Marketing, Americas Razer USA, Ltd. Irvine, CA
VP, Creative & Brand Synergy JCPenney Plano, TX
VP, Worldwide Marketing Partnerships Paramount Pictures Hollywood, CA
Sr. Director of Global Brand Licensing/Marketing Ralph Lauren New York, NY
Integrated Brand Director, Global Influencer Marketing Nike Portland, OR

Make sure to check back for updates on our Jobs Page.

The Most Influential Brands For Marketers In 2017

Based on internally commissioned research and compilation from social data, AListDaily has identified the 20 most influential brands to marketers in 2017. Our analysts monitored which brands marketers were following most on social media channels based on widely available data.

AListDaily interviewed marketing executives from these brands, and also reached back into our well of exclusive stories from 2017 to feature distinct calling cards for each of the 20 honorees.

20. GoPro 

GoPro’s stock saw a steep 20 percent decline in November, but the mounting losses didn’t stop the camera company from experimenting with product launches and partnerships.

The brand generated buzz for its new cameras with influencers and sponsored athletes at a pop-up exhibition at The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco, and for the first time, livestreamed an event on GoPro.com.

GoPro also wanted to leverage adventurous thrill-seekers, looking to complement the vivid and oftentimes rugged footage they capture with quality sound. The brand partnered with Sennhesier, making the brand the only official, verified audio company obtained by the GoPro Works program.

“We are closely collaborating not just with the marketing and engineering experts on the GoPro side but also with their associated enthusiasts and athletes,” Achim Gleissner, head of commercial management of broadcast and media for Sennheiser, told AListDaily. “This helps ensure that the products are performing as requested by the most demanding users. It also creates exciting content as well, which could be used for marketing purposes.”

19. Gap

Gap was one of the many brands in 2017 that championed diversity through is marketing. The retail clothing chain continued its “Meet Me in the Gap” campaign in the fall by calling on entertainers Cher and Future to sing their own version of “Everyday People.”

The American clothing brand’s remix of the original Sly & the Family Stone song spanned to television, outdoor, mobile, social, print, in-store and digital channels. Gap also started a namesake channel on Spotify with a mashup playlist.

“As a brand, our heritage is rooted in being a beacon of hope and optimism while also bringing people together,” said Gap CMO Craig Brommers.

18. Spotify

Spotify showed off its data capabilities and how well it knows its users with “2018 Goals.” The global out-of-home year-end campaign was similar to the one it unveiled last year and is positioned to provide a look into its users, potential users as well as potential advertisers and marketing partners. The music-streaming service experimented with data-driven outdoor ads, featuring copy such as “Eat vegan brisket with the person who made a playlist called ‘Leftist Elitist Snowflake BBQ.'”

Spotify also went ‘Upstream’ with brands for an original podcast centered around one-on-one conversations with company executives focusing on the future of their industries on “Spotify for Brands.” Hosted by Spotify CMO Seth Farbman, the podcasts feature discussions on open-ended questions facing the economy at large with influential figures, and it is yet another attempt to diversify its offerings as the company prepares to go public.

17. Warby Parker 

Retailers are feeling a reverberation from store closures, but purpose brand Warby Parker decided there is still a future in the space by opening 25 retail locations this year in cities like Los Angeles and Miami. It was a rare move of brick-and-mortar expansion amid store closures at several chains from brands like Radio Shack and Michael Kors. The eyeglasses seller now nears close to 70 stores ranging in size.

The digital-first, direct-to-consumer business—which maintains a help-related YouTube channel that gives video answers to frequent questions from consumers—also experimented in other avenues when its co-CEO, Dave Gilboa, created a startup to tackle a $5 billion opportunity in the antiquated eye test market using a mobile app.

16. Coca-Cola

The soft drink giant opened up plenty of cases of innovative marketing this year, but its FIFA 18 video game activation was one of its most refreshing.

Coca-Cola, which has a product portfolio made of 500 sparkling and still brands and a near $4 billion annual marketing budget, sponsored the fictional character Alex Hunter in the EA title. The virtual TV spot even re-imagines a 1979 Coca-Cola commercial with NFL great “Mean” Joe Greene. Coca-Cola also offered cans printed with Hunter’s likeness on them at 7-Eleven and Walmart stores in North America—each with a download code to unlock additional in-game content. It’s all part of a wider gaming strategy for Coca-Cola, which also featured esports.

“We take a multi-pronged approach [to esports]. We have our frontline marketing communication, which is the way we brand our product into the space,” Matt Wolf, vice president of entertainment, ventures and strategic alliances at the Coca-Cola Company, told AListDaily.

“Then we have the relationships that we make with the influencers, which is key. You can’t really lean into this space and get that value back as a brand unless you’re really able to hit it from a content standpoint, an influencer standpoint and from a social media standpoint.”

15. Arby’s

Much like Amazon and Target, the Roark Capital Group-owned Arby’s was in the mood for mergers as it swallowed up Buffalo Wild Wings in November for $2.4 billion. Both of the brands have had a large presence as non-endemic sponsors in esports, and the trend should continue well into next year.

In October, Buffalo Wild Wings partnered with Team Dignitas, which is owned by the Philadelphia 76ers. The restaurant chain is designed to become the official hangout for Team Dignitas while receiving a prominent logo placement on the sleeve of the team’s jerseys.

Arby’s has been connecting with gamers for over three years through its social channels and was also an inaugural sponsor for Turner and WME/IMG’s ELeague season.

“Our strategy is to engage versus sell,” Jeff Baker, vice president of brand experience at Arby’s, told AListDaily while discussing their esports marketing strategy. “We use our brand elements and create fun and lightweight stories that are about us being fans of the titles instead of us trying to sell the product. It’s been appreciated across the board with no negative commentary.” 

14. Oreo

The Mondelēz-owned cookie brand launched a global marketing campaign this year with the “Oreo Dunk Challenge” with Christina Aguilera, Shaq and Neymar. They partnered with Google to boot for a mobile game and site that integrates motion-detection technology and geo-location to allow fans to virtually dunk and launch their cookies into “space” and back.

Justin Parnell, Oreo’s director of global brand equity, told AListDaily that personalized marketing at scale that delivers the right content in the right moment, complemented with innovation through new products, is a critical component to the brand’s total growth strategy.

“There has never been a greater opportunity than now to deliver more tailored messages,” he said. “We are hard at work with our media and creative partners in thinking about how we best unlock this opportunity, which spans our content creation model to segmentation tools to real-time optimization.”

Parnell said things are changing faster than ever, so staying on top of changing consumer behaviors is something that all brands are challenged with.

“One area we’re keeping a close eye is on how the retail landscape continues to evolve,” he said. “Specifically, you will see our clear focus and stepped up investment in e-commerce in the near future. Also, staying relevant and contemporary, while being true to our roots, is so important. It’s a tricky balance, but one that is always top of our minds.”

Just as Oreo serves as a point of influence, Parnell draws inspiration from others as well.

“I am very impressed with Amazon. They are constantly evolving their model and offering to address changing consumer needs and they have a long history of investing in big bets in an ‘all-in,’ sustained way. Also, McDonald’s is another brand with a deep heritage, like Oreo, and what they are doing to reinvent their service model, menu and marketing approach for to be more relevant to consumer’s today is quite impressive.

“Last, but not least, I get a lot of inspiration from entrepreneurs. They often provide great insight into emerging trends and what’s ahead. Most inspiring to me, though, is how many young start-up brands are purpose-driven and fearless at their core, as their brands are a manifestation of their own personal passion and conviction.”

13. Whole Foods Market

The grocery-store giant felt the impact of Amazon earlier this year—literally—when the Jeff Bezos-led powerhouse bought Whole Foods for $13.7 billion. The mere news of it ranked as this year’s No. 1 food news story among millennials, Gen X and baby boomers alike, according to the Hunter Public Relations Annual Food News Study.

Echo devices are now sold at Whole Foods, and the ubiquitous Amazon Prime brand is not-to-subtly shaped from ground beef at some locations. By the end of next year, as its grocery delivery options gets more consolidated, Amazon will really be aiming for your whole paycheck with its suite of services. 

12. REI

For the third straight year, the Seattle-based brand closed the doors to its 154 stores in the US on Black Friday and gave its 12,000 employees a paid day off to high praise from people who hold the shopping holiday in less regard. The outdoor retailer was in no mood for business—at all—as it also shut down online orders for the day.

REI promoted the movement on social media with #OptOutside and complemented the hashtag with a search engine where users shared snapshots of their favorite outdoor destinations.

Perhaps the planned day off was a coy marketing campaign all along to create consumer affection and have them buy more gear later on.

11. American Express

The legacy brand has a burgeoning marketing budget that stretches across sports, to small business and more experiential areas like chat bots, among others.

This year, the brand brought its marketing band to Coachella and played to the tune of affluent millennials with special events for platinum card holders at the American Express Platinum House.

The credit card company leveraged its heritage in music and swiped concertgoers for a voluntary reprieve by offering attendees SoulCycle classes and a private concert by Bebe Rexha.

“We know that when we create memorable experiences and provide unique access for card members in the moments that matter to them, such as festivals, they feel more loyal to the relationship with our brand,” Deb Curtis, American Express’ vice president of global partnerships and experiential marketing, told AListDaily.

For everyone else attending Coachella, the American Express Experience tent allowed music fans to create their own mini music video as well as unlock special rewards through the official Coachella app.

“Because we have access to such rich data, we’re able to see how those who engage with us respond in the moment and over time and we see—year after year—a positive impact across key loyalty metrics,” Curtis continued. “This investment in our customers pays back in a longer, more fulfilling relationship between card members and the brand. That’s what drives us to deliver for them time and time again, and fuels us to serve them better and better each year.”

10. Delta

Delta had a year fueled with marketing activations. The airlines company held a singles event with Tinder featuring popular destinations and graffiti-inspired wallscapes on the side of a Brooklyn building that love seekers used for selfies; it thanked all 80,000 of its employees—each by name—in a 50-hour, celebrity-filled Facebook Livestream, and it honored the “early risers” with an ad featuring the Academy Award-winning actress Viola Davis.

Delta also revised its in-flight image by partnering with online shoe giant Zappos for a uniform overhaul and offered flyers free in-flight mobile messaging.

The marketing appears to be resonating. Delta has experienced a lift in millennial customers from a year ago, according to a YouGov report from July.

9. American Airlines

American Airlines’ business usually entails traversing the skies, but it is also taking on the digital cloud with IBM to innovate its own portfolio and data centers to scale operations.

The airline company embarked on a digital transformation and migrated its website, its customer-facing mobile application, airport kiosks and enterprise workloads to the cloud. Developers can now use the IBM Cloud to build applications for the airline’s customers.

8. Airbnb

Although Airbnb lost its CMO when Jonathan Mildenhall checked out of the company in October to start his own marketing consulting firm, the imprints of the executive still stood in 2017.

The home-rental company, valued at $31 billion, emphasized diversity and inclusiveness during the Super Bowl and also created unorthodox partnerships, such as a print magazine venture with Hearst offering glimpses into global destinations echoing the spirit of Airbnb, and promotional rentals with Taco Bell.

It also added to its in-house suite of martech by acquiring ad-tech startup AdBasis, which operated a platform and dashboard for ad testing and optimization. 

7. J.Crew 

The New York-based brand brought on a new CMO in July by hiring Vanessa Holden with hopes of her helping put a halt to the closure of additional stores, which totaled 50 this year.

Holden is now diving into a deeper digital strategy on mobile and social channels for the chain. The consumer-first move is designed to quicken mobile shopping while meeting users where they are.

After 10 quarters of dipping sales, J.Crew’s former CEO Mickey Drexler confessed to The Wall Street Journal earlier this year that he underestimated the power that tech would have on retail, while adding that his biggest mistake was increasing prices while consumers became more cost-conscious.

“We gave a perception of being a higher-priced company than we were—in our catalog, online and in our general presentation,” Drexler said.  “Very big mistake.”

6. Target

Target capped off its year with an attempt to take on Amazon by acquiring same-day delivery platform Shipt. The $550 million acquisition of the Instacart competitor sets the retail chain up to offer same-day delivery services at approximately half its stores by early 2018.

Target’s plan is to use Shipt’s proprietary technology platform and community of shoppers to bring consumers same-day delivery of groceries, essentials, home, electronics and other products. By the end of 2019, same-day delivery will include all major product categories at Target.

Earlier in the year, the retailer also got in on the mattress industry by acquiring the millennial-centric startup Casper.

5. BarkBox

BarkBox, a subscription service for dogs that launched five years ago, has already shipped more than 50 million toys and treats to date. This year, Bark launched in all 1,800 Target stores, and recently debuted a direct response television ad campaign that embodies America’s dog obsession on #BarkBoxDay.

“BarkBox’s digital strategies, which include social, email, search and affiliate marketing, have helped build the brand and become a case study for many other web brands,” Jay Livingston, chief marketing officer for BarkBox, told AListDaily. “Our social media team is made up of a mix of marketers, writers and comedians. They arguably invented the dog influencer model and regularly crank out viral hits that engage our rabid following of more than six million dog people.”

Some of those examples include a Facebook campaign during the Super Bowl and a Dog Mom Rap, which has over 41 million views on Facebook alone. They’ve also experimented offline with the stand-up comedy concept Open Bark Night.

BarkBox has an affiliate program of about 300 dog influencers and brand ambassadors called the BarkPack. The hashtag #BarkBox has been used 2.7 million times on Instagram alone, and because of that the brand has been able to cull user-generated content on social channels.

“The biggest challenge we face as we grow our business is to make sure our customers are getting the same experience and customer service no matter where or how they interact with our brands,” Livingston said.

“We are also diversifying our channel mix to reach new audiences with our direct response campaign spanning the TV ad and our first major direct mail effort. Our hope is that our venture into more traditional channels will help us reach the parents of the 78 million dogs in the US—including those that aren’t scrolling social media.”

4. Nordstrom

Like many retailers looking to fend off Amazon, Nordstrom is trying to define a value proposition and drive experiences with a showroom concept. It’s newest store format—Nordstrom Local—is short on clothing and racks and long on experiences, including manicures and on-site tailoring.

Shoppers can still try on clothes in dressing rooms, but the stores are designed to specifically not keep inventory in stock. Rather, it pulls merchandise from mall-anchored stores and its website. A flagship 3,000-square-foot location opened in Los Angeles this fall. In comparison, a typical Nordstrom retail store, which stretches up to 140,000 square feet.

Nordstrom also sharpened its marketing mix for visual search by being a launch partner in Pinterest’s foray into scannable codes and personalized style suggestions in “Lens Your Look. 

3. Nike

Nike casts a wide net in sports across the planet and maintains its position with consumers across a variety of verticals. The sports and lifestyle brand continued its decades-long work in basketball and caught the attention of hoops fans this year by being the new global apparel partner of the NBA. The brand’s iconic swoosh logo now occupies the longtime real estate once reserved for the Jerry West-inspired silhouette.

The jerseys are connected to a radio-frequency chip embedded in the tag. It allows for teams to provide customized engagement with fans who are looking to build unique associations with the franchises they follow.

Nike has already partnered with Apple Music and released exclusive playlists for all 30 teams through the new jerseys and the NikeConnect app. LeBron James, the star ambassador for Nike, crafted his separate playlist as well. 

2. Netflix

Netflix viewers around the world watched more than 140 million hours of content per day, according to the audience data it released earlier this month. The streaming service sports a slew of original shows in addition to licensed content that have subscribers glued to their TVs and mobile devices. For the holidays, it used its original movie A Christmas Prince to start a conversation about repeated viewings on Twitter that garnered over 113,000 retweets.

Netflix maintained a tongue-in-cheek voice on social throughout the year by announcing the addition of the movie 8 Mile to its library with a play on Eminem’s lyrics to the tune of 86,000-plus retweets and used social to promote Bright by calling on all the Will Smith’s of the world.

It wasn’t all fun, games and binge-watching, however. Netflix also used its platform for more serious issues by supporting strong net neutrality and opposing the FCC’s proposal to roll back core protections.

1. Starbucks

Marketing for Starbucks is different than many other similarly sized and situated brands. Comparatively speaking, the international coffee chain does not engage in much advertising on television or in print.

“The best marketing in my view is the experience in stores, the human connection with Starbucks baristas and the quality of the food or beverage in one’s hand,” Rajiv Chandrasekaran, senior vice president of public affairs for Starbucks, told AListDaily.

For the second-consecutive year, Starbucks doubled as a non-media publisher and evolved its content ecosystem through the original series Upstanders, an 11-episode collection that documents altruistic citizens making differences in their communities. It was made available on Amazon Prime Video, Facebook Watch and Audible.

Although Chandrasekaran said the pro-bono storytelling initiative is aimed at inspiring people and is not designed as cause marketing, Starbucks is still getting a seat at the table with newfound opportunities (and exposure) that come with such projects, and it fits within the big picture of the company.