In the Office

#Week In Marketing: Edible Bottles, PR Disasters, #NuggsForCarter, Chobani Comeback

Environmental-Friendly Alternative to Plastic Bottles
The Skipping Rocks Lab has created a new edible water bottle out of 10% biodegradable brown algae as an environmental-friendly alternative to plastic bottles. Ooho, the sea-weed based capsule is safe for consumption, can be flavored and colored. The ‘orbs’ are being tested at sporting events now. Can’t wait to see how they market this product!

United Airline’s PR Disaster
The airline company is in hot water after the video of a passenger being forcefully removed from a flight due to overbooking. The video surfaced on Facebook and was met with outrage online and in the media. The day after the incident the CEO apologized for the mistake, and again the internet went wild. Now, CEO Oscar Munoz has issued a second, true apology. United Airlines has lost $800 million in value and potentially done irreversible damage to their brand.

Did Pepsi Do It Right?
Between Pepsi and United Airlines, April has been quite the month for PR disasters. Although Pepsi responded quickly, and removed the commercial could they have still succeeded in marketing their product and brand? Despite the backlash the beverage company made headlines and trended on social media, which could be considered as an adverse success. What do you think?

New Marketing Campaign Brings People Together
Can a new marketing campaign help a company after a mold-related recall? The Greek yogurt company, Chobani, hopes so. It just introduced a new brand marketing campaign after being featured on “60 Minutes.” Check out the “Believe in Food” campaign with the tagline “Food brings us together”.

Take Notice: #NuggsForCarter has become a movement on Twitter
Wendy’s simple, one-off response to a once-little-known Twitter user, could improbably set a new social media benchmark, say social media experts. When Carter Wilkerson, a 16-year-old high-school student from Reno, Nevada, asked the fast-food chain how many retweets it would take to get free chicken nuggets for a year, Wendy’s replied in its usual cheeky and sassy brand voice: “18 million.” The teen answered, “Consider it done.” Wilkerson has become something of a celebrity. The hashtag #NuggsForCarter has become a movement on Twitter, and the teen has been profiled by a number of media outlets.

Week In Marketing: April Fools, Multicultural Trends, Oldvertsing, Controversial Ads, Subway Campaign

April Fools’ Best Brand Pranks
April Fool’s Day is always an opportunity for brands to prank consumers. AdWeek highlighted this year’s best pranks. From Dorito water, Burger King Whopper Cologne, to Chegg’s new energy drink Chugg – these brands outdid themselves!


Top Multicultural Trends
Hispanics continue to be among the top target audiences for brands. They have a purchasing power of $1.5 trillion and an expected population of 130 million by 2030. They’re a monumental force on social media, too. There are five trends brands should follow: Social Listening, Live Streaming, Storytelling, Influencer Marketing and Defining Diversity.

Brands around the world Are changing the way they portray seniors. Take Reebok for example. Their a new brand ambassador in China isn’t a taut young athlete, a muscular sports star or a dewy-cheeked model. It’s Wang Deshun, an 80-year-old grandfather who became an instant star after baring his super-ripped torso on the runway at Beijing Fashion Week in 2015.

Controversial Ads
It’s not bad when ads make you think. But it is bad when viewers ask — What were they thinking?

Pepsi released a new ad as part of their campaign featuring Kendall Jenner and Twitter users are not impressed. The “Live for Now” campaign is meant to celebrate moments that inspire “living in the now.” The two-and-a-half minute clip shows a peaceful protest that draws people in. Kendall Jenner is featured as a model leaving work to join the protest. What? Twitter users are not impressed, or convinced the soda company’s motives are have good intentions.

The beauty brand, Nivea’s invisible deodorant ad “Keep it clean, keep bright. Don’t let anything ruin it #Invisible” featured a risky and not thought through slogan: “white is purity.” The ad has since been removed due to concerns of the racial insensitive slogan. The beauty brand has since released an apology for the misleading message.

Sexual Harassment Campaign Leaves Lasting Impression
A molded penis on a subway seat served as a powerful representation for abuse that occurs on the subway. According to UN Women, “nine of every 10 women in the Mexican capital have been subjected to some type of sexual abuse riding the subway.” After just 12 days the YouTube video had more than 800,000 views.

Week In Marketing: Town Hall, Breastfeeding, Airline Dress Code, Food Porn, New LuvBug

Will Facebook’s “Town Hall” feature Help Understand Politics
The social networking site played a key role in the recent political elections. Since then, CEO Mark Zuckerberg is working to reduce fake news with new Town Hall feature. Users can access the “Town Hall” tab in their Settings page, enter their address to access representatives in their district. The list of representatives allows users to “Follow” their pages for updates in News Feeds, or “Contact” to call, message, email directly. Zuckerberg is working to increase civil engagement by allowing users to directly be involved and informed.


Food Porn
Hardens, the fast food chain is transforming their marketing campaign from the “made-you-look” tactics to focusing on “food, not boobs.” In a three minute, mini movie, Hardees introduces their new spokesman, Carl Hardee Sr. Papa Hardee takes back the reigns of the company from son, Carl Jr telling the story of the Pioneers of the great American burger. The inventive marketing strategy is evolving the criticized “soft-core porn” tactic to a “food porn” tactic.

Love is in the Air
How do you promote the features and benefits of a new car? Leverage the popularity of a classic. At least that’s what Volkswagen decided to do. Volkswagen’s new commercial brings a fresh twist to their classic “love bug” Beetle, introducing the 2018 seven-seater Atlas. The ad opens with a couple steaming up their VW bug, resulting in the need to trade in the bug for a Jetta. As their family grows the couple trades in the Volkswagen…and gets a new Atlas. The Atlas becomes the new “Luv Bug” filled with love and a growing family.

Making a Statement About Breastfeeding
What’s a great way to grab attention — use a giant inflatable breast. One company made a statement about breastfeeding for Mother’s Day in the UK. The campaign’s mission is “a celebration of every woman’s right to decide how and where they feed their children without feeling guilty or embarrassed about their parenting choices.” The hopes are the visual aid in conjunction with the #FreeTheFeed hashtag will ignite conversations about the stigmas around breastfeeding.

Airline Dress Code
Recently, United Airlines asked two girls who, both were wearing leggings to change their clothing or not board the flight to Minneapolis. The airline released a statement clarifying the “internal dress code policy”. Meanwhile Delta seized the opportunity to troll. Delta tweeted “Flying Delta means comfort. (That means you can wear your leggings.)”

Week In Marketing: Colorful Ad, Storyheap, EmpoweringWomen, New Muppet, New App, Non-Smoking Ad

Paint Chip Become a Beautiful Safari
Sherwin Williams brings their paint chips to life in a beautiful 30 second commercial. The clip took 24 production artists 700 days and 5,600 hours to form nearly 30,000 paint chips into a scene from an African jungle. WIM Image 322 Jonathan Cude, chief creative officer said, “Our worlds of color chips are about inspiring you with the possibilities from your home.”

Storyheap Gives‘Live Stories’ Further Reach
Storyheap is a new platform for scheduling and getting the analytics of users’ stories on Snapchat and Instagram. Designed for celebrities and social media “influencers” to plan posts and receive detailed analytics from their “live” stories.

Empowering Women
Now trending at No. 21 on YouTube: A collection of videos from women sharing empowering messages. The theme is part of YouTube’s newly released #HerVoiceIsMyVoice campaign, which aims to turn up the volume on girl power. The video platform is also sharing the most-watched ads among female viewers for 2016, as well as a slew of statistics that help debunk stereotypes on what its female viewers watch.

Sesame Street Welcomes a new Muppet, Julia
Meet Julia, Sesame Street’s newest Muppet meant to represent an autistic child. Julia was introduced to reporter, Leslie Stahl on Sunday’s 60 Minutes by none other than Elmo. The show wants to normalize the interactions between children in their real life, making it “familiar.” When asked, Elmo said “We really like Julia, she’s really special to us.”

New App Skin Vision Helps Detect Skin Cancer
The new app Skin Vision, based in Amsterdam helps to detect skin cancer just by taking a photo. The imaging technology takes a medical grade photo telling users if they need to see a doctor. The app also can be used to track changes in shape, color and size. Skin Vision is planned to roll out later this year.

Series Addresses Teenage Smoking
The FDA Center for Tobacco Products adorable new anti-smoking series targets teenagers through comedy. The main character, Little Lungs were not able to fully develop because they smoked as a teenager. The Little Lungs try to snowboard, participate in gym class, blow out birthday candles, ride a bike, and swim in a pool but are unable to without hurting themselves.

A Pi Day Throw Down

happyPIDayWorking in marketing and advertising, we deal with numbers everyday. Whether we are making sure our ads are the correct specs, budgeting client projects, managing social media ad spends or crunching numbers for quarterly reports- math is part of the job. And while we may not use the mathematical constant π in our daily activities, we respect and celebrate its significance, especially when it’s in the form of PIE.

Since 2009, Pi Day has been observed on March 14 since 3, 1 and 4 are the first three significant digits of π. We can thank the U.S. House of Representatives for that! So when Pi Day came along, I wanted to throw a Pi Day party – partly because I work on STEM Premier (seriously, check them out; they’re pretty cool), but mostly because I really like pie.

It took no time for the rest of the agency to get on board and in less than an hour, I had folks signing up for pies left and right. Lemon, apple, sweet potato, chocolate-raspberry ganache, key lime, chocolate chess and even Moon Pies (yes, you read that right) were all accounted for. And at 3:14 p.m. on 3/14, we feasted!

To see the full pie line-up, head over to our Facebook.



Week In Marketing: Angry Tweets, Media Training, Women’s Day, Disney and Cuervo Marketing

Trigger Turns Angry Tweets into Charity Donations
The new donation platform, Trigger helps users turn a moment of anger into an opportunity for charitable giving just by replying. The app offers a refreshing, yet passive aggressive way for users to respond to tweets that anger them. Creator Isaac Alfton was inspired by the elevated tensions on social media accounts after the Presidential election. To use Trigger, Twitter users simply reply to the tweet with a dollar amount, the handle of a U.S. nonprofit and the hashtag #TriggerGive.

Importance of Media Training
Why is media training so important? Ask President Trumps adviser Kellyanne Conway. She is still adjusting to life in the public eye. In her interview with CBS, she discussed the adjustment to the scrutiny, also noting she is one of the only White House staff members to have around-the-clock secret service. Conway compared her mistake to the Oscars mix-up saying, “I see mistakes on TV every single day and people brush them off.”

International Women’s Day
From Google to Snapchat to Facebook, these social media platforms have dedicated features to honor International Women’s Day 2017. For 24-hours, Facebook hosted a global live stream event featuring women entrepreneurs, policy makers, and leaders with the hashtag #SheMeansBusiness. Facebook also invited women from all over the world to join the conversation by posting their own videos.

Disney Reveals its First Openly Gay Character
A marketing ploy? Bill Condon, director of the highly anticipated ‘Beauty and the Beast’ remake announced it will feature Disney’s first openly gay character. The 1991, original film showed the character LeFou as Gaston’s sidekick, who seemed to only feel admiration for the masculine character. In contrast, the remake shows LeFou accepting his sexuality; one day he wants to be Gaston and on another, he wants to kiss Gaston. Watch the movie to see what happens!

‘Tomorrow Is Overrated’
Jose Cuervo’s new brand campaigns tagline ‘Tomorrow is Overrated’ playfully challenges the audience to live in the moment. The company wants customers to view tequila as celebratory, rather than relate it to something sad. The campaign shows a couple in a local bar with a tornado destroying their town. Their goal is for customers not to worry about the responsibilities of tomorrow, and simply commit to having fun no matter what because #TomorrowIsOverrated.

Wanted: Summer Interns


Do you like to write, conduct research on the internet, and do some creative thinking? Are you ready to get some hands-on experience in the field of Public Relations, Social Media or Advertising? If so, you should consider applying for an internship with us this summer.

We are looking for interns to work 10 – 25 hours a week. We prefer students who have taken a few communications classes and/or have some previous internship experience.

If you are an eligible candidate, please send your resume to

Week In Marketing: NYT, Oscar Mistake, Women’s History Month, Snapchat Growing, Pie Tops

The New York Times Advertises at the Oscars for the First Time
The New York Times embraced the opportunity to air their new ad campaign “The Truth Is Hard” during the highly watched Academy Awards show. The news organization tailored the campaign in response to the recent discussions of fake news in the media.
old-newspaper-350376_1920 The simple ad read, “The truth is hard. The truth is hidden. The truth is pursued…” and concluded with, “The truth is more important now than ever.” Although the advertisement did not take a political stance, their mission is to eliminate any concern about the validity of the information they report.

The Biggest Mistake in Oscar History

The “Best Picture Mistake” stole the attention on Monday morning after the Academy Awards as the biggest mistake in Oscar history. Warren Beatty announced La La Land as Best Picture although confused to why the envelop said “Emma Stone La La Land.” As acceptance speeches were being given, staff and producers were seen on stage as the news broke of the mistake that Moonlight was the real winner. The Waterhouse accounting firm is responsible for the mistake, and the media is buzzing about how this will affect their chance of doing business in the future.

Brawny Celebrates Women’s History Month with New Packaging
Brawny is celebrating Women’s History Month with new packaging debuting the Brawny Woman. For the month of March the #StrengthHasNoGender campaign will feature inspiring women through a series of short films in addition to the new packaging in stores. The new campaign integrates nicely with their current ‘Stay Giant’ campaign, who’s mission is to encourage Americans who “face adversity with strength and resilience.”

Snapchat’s Audience is Growing Thanks to Older Americans
In a new report, eMarketer projects the Snapchat audience will grow to 70.4 million by the end of 2017. Interestingly enough, the growth is coming from U.S. adults between 45-54 years-old. Snapchat users 24 and younger are decreasing their time on the app and directing it to the new competition, Instagram. The feature reduces the changes of new, younger users downloading and using Snapchat when Instagram Stories offers both broadcasting options.

Pizza Hut’s New Ordering Option: Pie Tops
Pizza Hut’s newest marketing campaign simplifies the process of ordering pizza through their new Pie Top shoes. The shoe has a button attached, and upon pressing will order a large, two-topping pizza for $7.99, normally $12.99. The pizza company will distribute the custom shoes to influencers, media, and few Pizza Hut super fans to create buzz about the deal. The promotional ad will be featured during the NCAA March Madness because “No One Out Pizzas The Hut.”

Howard/Merrell and Lincoln Brewing Company Celebrate Big Wins at the ADDY’s

The creative team of Howard/Merrell and client, Lincoln Brewing Company, celebrated YUGE wins last week at the the Triangle Advertising Federation’s 2017 American Advertising Award Show, taking home eight Golds, three Silvers, and the coveted Best in Show Award.


That’s all thanks to the campaign created for the Fuquay-Varina-based brewery to re-reelect Abe Lincoln. The novel campaign intended to bring some levity to the heated 2016 presidential race, delivering messages from Abe about where he stood on the issues, as well as his feelings for other candidates—Clinton, Trump and Sanders. The team produced campaign videos, posters, road signs, and events at Lincoln’s not-so-secret headquarters, Lincoln Brewing Company.

“The 2016 election was out of control,” said Billy Barnes, creative director at Howard/Merrell. “Everyone was desperate for a candidate they could believe in. We thought Abe Lincoln could be that guy. Who wouldn’t want old Abe to come back from the dead and save us all from ourselves?”

“People needed beer too. So it was perfect,” continued Barnes.

Interested in viewing the award-winning campaign? Visit:

Nice work, boys. Cheers!

Week In Marketing: Valentine’s Day Marketing, SI Swimsuit issue, Nike Campaign, Content Advertising

Burger King’s Valentine’s Day Marketing
hearts-937664_1280g> Finally, a solution for consumers who want to share a drink, but not a straw. Burger King heard these complaints and has developed a lid with two straw-holes. Even better, the new lid came just in time for Valentine’s day! The two straw-hole lid is perfect for sharing, or adding a little romance to the fast-food experience.

Burger King also offered an exclusive Adults-Only Valentine’s Meal, after 6 p.m., only for customers over eighteen years old. The chain asked, “Kids have got their ‘Kid’s Meal.’ But what about grownups?” The meal comes in a deep purple “happy-meal box” with two whoppers, two packs of French fries, two beers, and a toy.

Snickers Lands the Back Cover of SI Swimsuit Issue, Again!
The Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue’s front cover is a coveted job for models in the swimsuit industry, but what about the back cover? The 2017 issue will be Snickers third time advertising on the back cover. This year Mars Candy will run two sarcastic, but clever ads on the back cover and the inside back cover. The ads show a Chest of Drawers and a Guinea Pig on a beach, in a bikini, with the tag lines: “Magazine editors get confused when they’re hungry” and “Magazine editors get loopy when they’re hungry.”

Nike Premieres a New Campaign at the 2017 Grammys
In honor of Black History Month, Nike is rolling out a new campaign, “Equality.” The black-and-white commercial features stars LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Megan Rapinoe, Dalilah Muhammad, and Gabby Douglas. The ad “encourages people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field.” The campaign tag line is introduced as “equality has no boundaries.” Nike is encouraging fans to show support by creating a “Equality” avatar and using their social media filters.

Content Advertising Growth
Content advertising is projected to grow into a $50 billion market by 2021. This is up from $12.8 billion in 2016, according to projections from Polar, a content marketing platform for publishers. That’s a growth rate of 32% year-over-year, and more than 2x the growth rate of digital advertising as a whole. Polar estimated that the global ad market will grow from $590 billion this year to $775 billion in 2021, at a rate of 7% year-over-year growth. Digital advertising is expected to be 48% of the market, while mobile represents 78% of that total.