In the Office

Week In Marketing: Snapchatters, Speaking emoji, 5-second Spots, Latest Media Deals


Snapchatters Are Watching 10 billion Videos Daily
Bloomberg reported that 10 billion videos are now viewed each day on Snapchat, the ephemeral photo- and video-sharing app. This is up from 8 billion per day in February. In addition, 60 percent of the app’s daily users crank out their own snaps every day. Looks like Snapchat is going head-to-head with Facebook to acquire new users while boosting views.

Viacom-Roku Advertising Deal
Viacom and Roku announced a new partnership which will give Viacom access to Roku’s audience data and enables the company to deliver targeted advertising to Roku’s various audience demos. According to Viacom, this is the first time a programmer has gained access to Roku’s audience targeting data. Roku users streamed 5.5 billion hours of content in 2015. Viacom anticipates a thriving TV upfront marketing this year, so this Roku deal gives the company even more data to tout during its upfront talks.

DreamWorks vs Disney
NBCUniversal announced it will acquire DreamWorks Animation for $3.8 billion. The deal was mostly hailed as a film play for NBCU’s parent company, Comcast, as it seeks to challenge Disney’s big media dominance. Now both companies will be in the short-form, millennial-focused multichannel network space.

Brands are Speaking emoji
Emojis are now a part of the marketing strategies of magnet brands such as Starbucks, Domino’s Pizza and General Electric. The typographical cartoon symbols have been lifted from the smartphone screens of millennials and inserted into the strategies of brands. Recent data reveals that more than a quarter (28 percent) of Facebook’s top-brands have used emojis in their posts in 2014. By 2015, that number had increased to 40 percent. During the same time on Twitter, the number of top profiles using emojis in their tweets increased by 15 percent.

Embracing the 5-second Spot
Pepsi created 100 five second spots that will air on TV and in search-triggered digital media this summer. These are emoji-themed commercials, creating a slew of 100 five-second spots showing brief, charming, cartoon vignettes of Pepsi bottles doing summery things like skydiving, sunbathing, eating ice cream and more. Want a sneak peak?

Marissa Joins the Howard/Merrell Family


We’re excited to welcome Marissa Porcaro – our newest Senior Account Supervisor. Marissa will manage day-to-day client work and collaborate with public relations, media buying and planning, social media and creative teams to develop and execute our marketing campaigns.

With valuable experience, insight and skill in digital marketing and brand strategy, Marissa is a perfect fit for the agency. She plays an essential role in providing insightful and strategic value to the development and execution of campaigns. Marissa brings with her a lot of experience in account leadership roles. From the Sieb Organization, to the E.B. Lane and Professional Beauty Association, to her most recent role as Marketing Director at the North Carolina Chamber in Raleigh, Marissa is well suited for the job.

Marissa is a graduate of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and an emphasis in Strategic Communication.

Welcome to the team, Marissa! We’re so happy to have you.

Week in Marketing: Live Graphic Novel, Live Streaming, #RestInPurple, Group Voice, Barbie Campaign

1. Illustrator Promotes Sunglasses Through “Live” Graphic Novel
Illustrator Jonathan Bartlett is helping with a new campaign which features a graphic novel posted on an Instagram series. The story highlights protagonist Frankie Malone in a dystopian thriller setting. iphone-500291_1280Followers can comment what they want to happen next, creating an interactive and live experience that’s gained some traction.

2. Live Streaming Just Got Better
Mevo has released a new live stream camera that allows for video to be edited in real time. This means no more shaky iPhone or Go Pro videos. The device is pocket sized and allows for video to be edited at the same time its being shot and posted on several different platforms. Users can also “crop” the video into about nine different “shots” that make it look like there are different camera angles, all while not moving the device itself. This is definitely a huge game changer when it comes to the popularity of live streaming video.

3. Going Purple in memory of Prince
The passing of Prince Rogers Nelson on Thursday garnered 4 million tweets in only a few hours — and that number rose throughout the day. Prince was recognized online by brand managers, celebrities, fans, news and lifestyle publications—and just about every other type of person or organization #RestInPurple #Prince

4. Facebook Messenger Added a New Feature
Facebook Messenger has been introducing a ton of new features lately including a feature that allows people to pay back their friends over the app. The most recent feature is a group voice call option. The newly introduce phone icon in the app, when pressed, will immediately call all of the members in that group at the same time, adding a quick and interesting new communication option.

5. Is the Barbie Campaign Working?
Earlier in the year, Barbie started a new campaign hoping to sell more realistic dolls for girls. The new dolls come in all shapes, sizes, skin tones, and hair and eye colors. The new toys received a lot of great feedback, but the company’s Q1 report seems to indicate that they are still down in sales. It will be interesting to see what happens next.

Nice Way To Make A Living


Farm livin’ is the life for us when we’re shooting for client KIOTI Tractors.

Week in Marketing: Adulting, Branded Content, Tacos on Slack, Live Streaming Billboards, Pitching App

1. Millennials Want A Break From “Adulting”
While growing up has been difficult for every generation, millennials seem to be the most vocal about their distaste with the transition from child to adult, coining terms such as “adulting” to describe their newly acquired responsibilities.camperWIM This openness to discussing their attitudes about growing up has been facilitated by social media, and as a result, businesses have heard and are responding. From the creation of adult summer camps, such as Camp Throwback and Camp Grounded, to the rise of adult coloring books, brands are giving millennials the chance to take the break from adulting that they are asking for.

2. Facebook Makes Space For Branded Content
Facebook has recently changed its rules to allow verified pages to share branded content on its platform – something that was once prohibited. This is an interesting move on Facebook’s part, as it will not directly increase the company’s advertising-based revenue, even as the number of advertisements on the website increases. However, it is suspected that the company is hoping brands will take organically successful content and choose to promote it through Facebook’s paid services. Facebook defines branded content as “any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos — that specifically mentions or features a third party product, brand, or sponsor.”

3. Order Your Tacos Off Of Slack
Taco Bell has teamed up with communication app Slack to allow customers to order from a limited menu, pay for food, and then pick it up from a nearby Taco Bell location. Taco Bell was inspired by its own use of Slack, and aims to give customers more accessibility to its food and brand. Taco Bell customers can sign on to Slack, install a “Taco Bot,” and interact with it to order food and even start a conversation.

4. Live Streaming Billboards
The day before Earth Day, Recycle Across America is live-streaming a PSA campaign on billboards. The recycling campaign will air near-real-time photos of celebrities. It is the first advertisement of its kind thanks to the manner in which advancing technology is pulling advertisements away from the home.

5. New Pitching App
There is now an app modeled after Tinder with the intent of connecting to reporters. The app, UPitch, allows brands to condense pitches into no more than 400 characters and four pictures to grab the attention of reporters. The reporters can then swipe right or left depending on whether they want to pick up the story.

Week In Marketing: Mixology, Enabling the Blind, Twitter-NFL, Swift’s Fall, Future of Retail

1. Lines Blur Between Soda and Booze
Pepsi’s new 1893 Soda highlights a new marketing strategy by PepsiCo that may change the soda industry forever. The new cola is made from real sugar, sparkling water, aromatic bitters and real ginger. Sounds like it was made to mix with whiskey, doesn’t it? That’s because it was. martini-1117932_1920 PepsiCo is trying to tap into the mixology trend and harness the millennial culture of cocktails by trying to get into the bar business. Cheers to that.

2. Facebook Enables Blind Community
Facebook now offers blind people audio descriptions of images on their newsfeeds. The new feature uses artificial intelligence technology to enable “screen readers” – which read newsfeeds and describe the content to users, including the likes and reactions posts receive. This innovative use of AI technology is “an important step towards making sure everyone has equal access to information and is included in the conversation”.

3. Twitter-NFL Deal Promising for Marketers
Twitter announced a new deal with the NFL to livestream 10 of the leagues Thursday Night Football games next season. What does this mean for marketers? The partnership allows more Twitter advertising inventory that will play during games, regionally specific ads, premium pricing, and the beginning of a promising live sports- social media relationship.

4. Retail Stores of the Future
With consumers doing most of their purchasing online, brands are refocusing their brick and mortar stores to function solely as a brand advertisement. These so-called “concept stores” allow consumers to interact with products, associates, and the brand. Reebok is combining a CrossFit gym and retail offerings in FitHub stores, Staples is providing Workbar spaces in retail stores, and Tory Burch offers Yoga classes at its new Tory Sport stores. The future is here: stores are becoming more than just stores.

5. Swift’s Fall Sends Drake’s iTunes Sales Soaring
Apple’s new “distractingly good” ad for Apple Music, featuring an epic fall by pop-star Taylor Swift, has already racked up more than 20 million views on Facebook and Instagram. The ad shows Swift hardcore jamming out to Drake’s “Jumpman” while working out on a treadmill quickly followed by a hilarious wipe out. Not only has the ad promoted Apple Music, but iTunes sales of the featured Drake track have shot up by 431 percent globally. Good for Apple, good for Drake, good for viewers. It’s a win-win-win.

Week in Marketing: Tinder and Politics, Blendle, Instagram’s Algorithm, YouTube Video Essays, Adobe

1. Tinder Wants Its Users To Get Political
Tinder will be releasing a new feature on its app that will help users determine who they should vote for in the upcoming election. The feature will work by displaying various video cards that will pop up as users are swiping on the app. vote-1190034_1280 Each card will discuss a current political issue, with details describing its current circumstances. Users will then be able to swipe left or right based on whether they agree or disagree with a certain stance on that issue. After the user has gone through each of the political cards, Tinder will inform him or her of the candidate that most aligns with his or her views.

2. What’s Blendle?
Blendle, a Dutch micropayments platform that offers ad-free, pay-per-story news from various sources in one place, has launched in the U.S.. Several big publishers, including Time Inc., The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Condé Nast, have all signed on to be available to U.S. Blendle users. Blendle aims to offer a wide variety of news content in the same ways that Netflix and Spotify offer shows, movies and songs to users. Blendle will offer recommendations to readers, and articles will range from a cost of 9 cents to 49 cents.

3. Instagram’s Changing Its Timeline Algorithm
While Instagram has always displayed photos chronologically on users’ newsfeeds, it has recently announced that it will be incorporating a new engagement-based algorithm to generate newsfeeds. This means that accounts with greater activity – especially on the receiving end – are more likely to appear at the top of followers’ newsfeeds. To stay at the top, it is important to generate engagement with your posts. This is encouraged by engaging with other accounts, posting engaging content, and making a special effort to interact with Instagram’s more influential users.

4. YouTube Video Essays Taking Journalism To A New Level
YouTube video essays aren’t complicated – they consist of well thought-out arguments presented alongside video footage and other imaging. Now, with the millennial audience, these video essays are growing in popularity, just as written essays are fizzling out. YouTube video essays are popular not only because of their visual appeal, but also because they are free and easy to access. In a time when print news is dissipating, it is important to keep up with this growing trend.

5. Adobe Switches Its Marketing Focus From Devices To People
This past week, Adobe hosted its 2016 Digital Marketing Conference in Las Vegas, where it announced the release of its Adobe Marketing Cloud Device Co-op. The product will allow marketers to finally connect users’ ad engagement across platforms and devices. The Device Co-op will let Adobe Marketing Cloud members share the link across devices, without requiring information from user profiles. This will result in a clearer, less fragmented picture of user habits. Adobe hopes to release this new service by the end of 2016.

Ellen Wayland: Planner, Buyer, Negotiator, Strategizer

Meet our Media Director, Ellen Wayland.

Ellen oversees the agency’s media department and is in charge of coordinating the planning, buying and reconciliation of all digital, print, broadcast and non-traditional media campaigns for the agency’s clients.


She recently celebrated her 30th anniversary at Howard/Merrell, and we’ve been lucky to have her.

A negotiating and strategizing wiz, Ellen finds herself using her professional skills in daily life. “I’m usually the go-to person in the family when it comes to negotiating,” she says.

Ellen’s our go-to person, too.

According to her, a successful media campaign is one in which all the pieces come together, the clients see the results and are happy. And for the past three decades, that’s what Ellen has been delivering.

Surprisingly enough, Ellen didn’t even know what a media planner was when she graduated from the University of Virginia. She always envisioned herself owning her own retail business, “something like an ice cream shop or candy store.”

Her first job in the industry was a freelance marketing researcher for a small agency in Raleigh. After that, Ellen worked in the media department for another local agency before moving to Howard/Merrell. The rest is history.

What’s her secret? Ellen claims the best advice she ever received was, “It’s just advertising. You’re not going to mess it up.” Her advice for people in the industry? “Embrace the inevitable changes and get ready to hang on for a wild ride.”

So what’s kept Ellen here at Howard/Merrell for 30 years? She simply couldn’t see herself anywhere else.

“It’s a great place both personally and professionally,” she says. “Great people, great talent, and some great clients along the way.”

Want to know more about Ellen, check out the press release on her 30th anniversary.

Week in Marketing: Video-on-Demand, Instagram Algorithim, Tiger Beat, Mobile Game Changer, Cross-Platform Measurement Mix


1. Nielsen Finds Little Demand For Ads In Video-On-Demand
According to a Nielsen:
– Some 66% of global respondents say most ads in Video-On-Demand content are for products they don’t want
– Sixty-two percent who watch VOD say online ads displayed before, during or after VOD programming are distracting, and 65% wish they could block all ads.
– Most say they “don’t mind getting ads if I can view free content.” That’s the case for 68% of consumers in North America; 60% in Latin America; 59% in Asia-Pacific countries; and 53% in Europe.
– About 50% of people in North America, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East/Africa say they don’t mind getting ads for recent purchases already made. But this percentage is far lower in Europe, at 34%.
– Nearly 60% of global respondents favor watching VOD programming because it is less expensive than programming via a cable or satellite service. Still, nearly 70% say they have no plans to cancel their existing traditional service.

2. Instagram’s New Algorithm – What does this mean?
It is time for brands to put more muscle into their Instagram ads. Instagram is adding an algorithm that reorders pictures and videos in users’ feeds based on their interests. Marketers say this move was inevitable. The photo-sharing app builds out its ad business and takes a page from sister company Facebook’s playbook. The question is: How made will this make Instagram’s core users?

3. The Evolution of Tiger Beat
Tiger Beat magazine is undergoing a transformation in an effort to keep up with the times. Under the control of its well-connected new owners, the magazine has already made a number of big strategy shifts. The most noticeable is the new cover. No more cluttered collages of teen stars. Tiger Beat’s latest covers feature solo celebrities, from megastars like Taylor Swift to up-and-comers like Vine star Cameron Dallas.

4. Canvas Has the Potential to Be a Game-Change for Mobile
People spend an enormous amount of time in front of their phones. That’s why advertisers would love to leverage mobile opportunities. But the mobile advertising options available to date, have not been that impressive. This may have changed with the recent launch of Facebook Canvas. Why? 1- It’s fast to get in. 2- It’s fast to get out. 3- It’s an answer. 4- It’s easy to build

5. Cross-Platform Measurement Mix
With the importance of analytics, publishers are looking for ways to demonstrate print’s impact alongside and in conjunction with digital and broadcast media. Time Inc. and Nielsen Catalina Solutions unveiled a new cross-platform measurement service that adds print ad exposure to the mix. The service, available to CPG advertisers, brings together different forms of measurement tailored to specific media, including Time Inc. subscription data and GfK MRI.

Week In Marketing: Fempowerment, Gamification, Messaging Apps, Sharapova Sponsors, Dos Equis Spokesman Retirement

1. Brands Promote “Fempowerment”
In support of International Women’s Day, paper towel brand Brawny is launching several digital short films celebrating women’s accomplishments. By replacing the iconic lumberjack mascot with strong women and using the slogan #StrengthHasNoGender, the brand hopes the ads will transcend simple advertising and stimulate a more important conversation. weekinmarketingOther brands are joining the conversation one by one: Nesquick’s “Daredevil” TV commercial starring an ambitions second grade girl encourages moms to celebrate their children’s dreams, Always #LikeAGirl campaign is fighting for empowering girl emojis, and Young Minds for Gender Equality ‘s quirky “Business Bulge” campaign draws attention to female equality issues.

2. Sports Brackets are a Marketing Slam Dunk
From a marketing perspective, brackets are ingenious. They give fans a reason to watch every game, engaging them on levels like never before. In 2015 alone, some 40 million Americans filled out a tournament bracket, betting a total of $2 billion. Brands are trying into tap into this rabid enthusiasm and capitalize on sports fan’s passion by creating brackets of their own. This type of marketing, known as “gamification,” can be a powerful way to connect with consumers and drive traffic, keeping brands in the game instead of on the sidelines. AT&T’s successful partnership with Major Soccer League last year only proves how promising gamification-done-right can be.

3. Marketing Platform of the Future
As consumers continue to abandon desktops for smartphones, they have begun to trade in traditional email for mobile messaging apps. Apps like Snapchat, WeChat, WhatsApp, Kik and Facebook Messenger are quickly on the rise, and are especially popular among younger audiences. Until recently however, these app’s massive audiences have been untapped by advertisers. But as they become more integrated – Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are enabling users to exchange money directly on the platforms – their potential for effective marketing platforms is skyrocketing.

4. Sponsors Cut Ties with Maria Sharapova
World famous tennis champion Maria Sharapova announced that she recently failed a drug test for the Australian Open. Sharapova admitted to her usage of meldonium, apologized publicly, and expressed her hopes that the scandal will not end her career. Despite the controversy over the details of the situation however, sponsors Nike, Tag Huer and Porsche were quick to suspend their relationships with the 28-year old athlete. And, although addressing the issue head on was a smart PR decision, the sponsor’s swift response signaled a new “no-tolerance” attitude among corporate sponsors, whose reputations are increasingly more affected by bad press.

5. Dos Equis Retires The Most Interesting Man in the World
Dos Equis bids adieu to infamous pitchman Jonathan Goldsmith, better known as The Most Interesting Man in the World, in its most recent farewell commercial. After “creating one of the most celebrated campaigns of the 21st century,” Heineken CMO Nuno Teles says the beer brand is looking for a more modern character to appeal even more to young people. Like Superman and Batman receive periodic makeovers, Teles wants people to look at this decision as a franchise reboot that will keep the concept fresh and relevant.