In the Office

Week In Marketing: Paid Patriotism, Sports Advertising, Notify, Google’s AI, Coloring Campaign


1. NFL to Pay Back Sponsorship Money for Military Tributes
The Defense Department paid millions of dollars to pro sports teams to stage patriotic and “heartwarming” tributes at games, according to a congressional report. The practice of “paid patriotism” at sporting events came under fire a few months ago. Arizona senators John McCain and Jeff Flake have released a 146-page report detailing exactly how the Department of Defense spent taxpayer money on military pageantry at sporting events. The DoD spent a little more than $10 million on sports sponsorship in the last five years. Now the NFL says it will pay back the money its teams received.

2. Notify could be great for marketers
Facebook will soon be launching a new app called Notify. The app is said to “enable selected publishers to send notifications to people who subscribe to a publication’s ‘Station’ for breaking news alerts.” Users will be able to subscribe in order to receive notifications of breaking news.

3. Google’s AI search may be good for consumers and marketers
Google will be shifting its artificial intelligence to a system called RankBrain. The system will be able to expand searches past key words, and make plain speech questions more answerable. This will help consumers find search results that are more accurate and helpful. Now marketers can be found more easily.

4. Barnes and Noble Brings out A New Weapon: Crayons
Barnes & Noble has decided to use one of its obvious advantages over dot-coms – its spacious, comfortable 647 stores. Starting next week, all of its stores are inviting adults to come in between noon-5, sit down and color. Watch out Amazon, it is time for All-American Art Unwind.

5. Kia changes the game for Ads during regular season
In February at the All Star game viewers will notice a Kia log patch on the jerseys of the player on the top left chest. This will make the NBA the first professional sports league to allow on jersey ads. The deal does not extend to the regular season games … not yet anyway.

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Week In Marketing: Time Inc., Digital Ad Fraud, Nielsons Platform, TV’s Future, Trix Mascot


1. Time Inc. Purchases Jane Pratt’s xoJane and xoVain
Time Inc. has acquired Jane Pratt’s xoJane and xoVain websites in a bid to build up its portfolio of brands that target millennials. With this purchase, Time Inc. continues to bolster its beauty, fashion and digital-only content. According to comScore, in September, xoJane had 2.5 million unique visitors this September and xoVain had 958,000 viewers.

2. Digital Ad Fraud: half the battle, 1/3 the money
The amount of digital ads purchased continues to increase, and so does the amount of digital ad fraud. Whether it’s faking mobile traffic or hijacking screens and filling them with ads, the growth of ad fraud as increased over the past years. So how does this effect marketers? According to AdAge “Fraud thrives when advertisers measure the wrong events like page views, video views – those are events that both a human and a bot can do.” When measuring your ads you want to have accurate human responses, would you pay extra to have certified human hits?

3. Optimize your media plans with Nielson’s multiplatform data
With the total audience measurement making its debut in December, it’s important to know how Nielson’s new technology will benefit a brand’s advertising. The total audience measurement tool will “show networks and advertisers how their content is viewed over multiple platforms”. Nielson recently acquired a data management platform that will be able to help networks and advertisers with creating a programmatic platform.

4. Is TV (as we know it) Doomed?
No. Approximately 300,000 Americans dropped cable service last quarter. Analysts say that’s it good news for providers because the number was just half the amount lost in the second quarter, according to Bloomberg estimates. Despite those numbers some observers still believe linear TV is here to stay (at least for now). A recent study found that the percentage of households that subscribe to a pay-TV service of some kind is actually higher in 2015 than it was in 2005. An estimated 100 million U.S. households still subscribe to cable.

Week In Marketing: New Emojis, Red YouTube, Snapchat’s Discover, Twitter Moments and GooHoo?


1. New Emojis with New Update
Apple has rolled out the big carpet with its newest update. The update includes more than 100 new emojis. Among the new set are the long awaited middle finger emoji, taco emoji, and even a unicorn. Apple also tightened up a few other things in its iOS 9.1 update.

2. YouTube Goes Red
YouTube is going back to its ad-free roots by allowing users to purchase a subscription that will get rid of those pesky ads. YouTube Red is a monthly subscription program where users can pay $9.99 a month (starting at the end of the month) to enjoy an ad-free experience.

3. GooHoo?
Yahoo has partnered with Google to provide search ads with its search results. Spawning this partnership, Google pays Yahoo a percentage of the gross revenues. How will this benefit Yahoo in the future?

4. Discover on Snapchat
Snapchat has introduced many of brands on the new “discover” part of its app. Now, brands are looking for ways to tailor their ads for Snapchat. What will Snapchat come up with next?

5. Twitter Moments
After releasing the moments feature on the Twitter app a few weeks ago, the company has opened it up for the public to use. This feature allows users to get a peek at different parts of the world and what is happening there. The moments feature is new and is sure to bring a lot of excitement to the Twitter-sphere!

It’s not Every Day you get to Give Away Trace Adkins’ Tractor

Country music legend, Trace Adkins, loves KIOTI tractors. He has a few of them in fact. He also loves to support Wounded Warrior Project. So here was an idea – what if KIOTI were to help Trace give away one of his personal tractors? What if all money raised were to benefit WWP? What if Howard/Merrell got to promote the whole thing with TV, web video, digital banners, in-store signage and PR?

Well, that’s exactly what happened.

It’s the KIOTI Tractor Power Through Tour Presented by Trace Adkins. Shot on location at Trace’s property in Tennessee, we had the pleasure of capturing Trace working his land and showing off the chosen tractor. In addition to advertising, PR and a sprinkle of social media, the promotion will take the tractor on a tour around the country through next year, making stops at trade shows, fairs and KIOTI dealerships.

To ensure the word was out, our PR team pitched a press release to audiences that are a perfect match for the promotion – country music, tractors, local pubs, you name it. The KIOTI Tractor dealers were given a separate release to promote on their websites. We also developed promotional social content to make the tour “Facebook Official,” along with helping KIOTI develop a Facebook trivia contest to increase participation.

Working with Trace Adkins was awesome. Knowing that all the hard work and collaboration benefits the courageous servicemen of our country makes this promotion even more incredible. Thanks to our client KIOTI for trusting us to make this great.

Learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project here.



Simple Idea Mired in Convoluted Branding

Orion TraveMarketing-Gone-Wildl Technologies had a simple idea: Sell ad space on luggage. Provide consumers the luggage for free and pay for their baggage fees when they use it. Win-Win, right? Wrong.

Here’s where the idea goes all to hell: Create the world’s worst logo. Create an awful website using sci-fi stock photos that have absolutely nothing to do with anything (“The Future of Travel is Here!”). Add some exclamation points!! Add more extras than you can fit into a 2 hour infomercial. Create a 6min animated video to describe everything and let it go on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on. Add more exclamation points!!! Top it all off by featuring Dierks Bentley’s music video “Drunk On A Plane” on your homepage. Nothing says safe travel more.

Well. I’ve barely scratched the surface. For the rest, you’ll just have to experience it yourself:


Week in Marketing: Ad Blocker, PC Rivals, Videos and Millennials, Soda and Mobile, Back to the Future


1. Apple Pulls Popular Ad Blocker from the App Store
Mere weeks after Apple launched iOS 9, which allows developers to push apps that effectively block ads on the mobile web browser, Safari has had to pull a few of those apps for blocking a little too well. The most popular of these apps, Been Choice, was pulled because it blocked in-app ads as well, rather than remaining confined to Safari. Facebook, Pinterest, Google, Yahoo, and even Apple’s own News app all effectively had their ads removed via Been Choice, which Apple claims is a breach of terms.

2. Microsoft Taps PC Rivals for Ad Campaign Against Apple
In a move that will unite some of the biggest players in the world of PC manufacturing, Microsoft and Intel will be teaming up with Dell, Lenovo, and HP to promote Windows 10 devices. The campaign will involve TV commercials, print ads, and online ads, all geared towards asking and answering the question: “PC does what?”

3. Videos Prove to Be the Best Way to Reach Millennials
How do you attract and effectively engage Generation Y? Research shows that video may be the way. Videos such as demos or customer testimonials are shown to help guide consumers towards making a purchase of the given product or service. This is partially because many millennials place more trust into companies that produce their own video content. Social media platforms have also taken heed to the trend, with Facebook introducing a group of experimental features that will make it easier for users to find and stream video.

4. Pepsi Plans to Make a Splash within the Mobile Phone Industry
Smartphones and soda – not a pairing that is top of mind. Pepsi plans to change that, in China, anyway. While PepsiCo. won’t be manufacturing the devices themselves, the company will be lending their brand to the device, which will be available in China within the next year. This is simply the next step in Pepsi’s efforts to expand their global brand, joining other endeavors such as apparel and accessories.

5. Toyota Draws on Back to the Future II Nostalgia to Promote New Car
It’s October of 2015, and you know what that means. October 21, 2015 is the date in the second Back to the Future film that Marty McFly and Doc Brown make their return to the future. It’s also the date on which Toyota plans to release a five-minute video promoting their new hydrogen fuel cell car, the Mirai. The car will use a variation of the technology predicted by the film and will join the ranks of the other Back to the Future-inspired products to make an appearance this year, alongside Pepsi Perfect.

Social Channels – Which is Growing Faster?

Recent years have seen unprecedented growth within the world of social media.


Gone are the days when Facebook and Twitter alone, led the pack of companies in this race. Research shows that the two social media giants have seen significantly slower growth over the past two years in comparison to other platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest. Both have seen their number of users double over the past three years, with Instagram making the longest strides in growth over the past 18 months.

The photo-sharing platform gained 100 million of its now 400 million user base between March of 2014 and September of 2015. In contrast, Twitter continues to struggle to reach new heights. The micro-blogging service only saw a growth of about 45 million, up from its 255 million active users in 2015.

These social media growth patterns aren’t particularly surprising. In fact, they fall in line very closely with recent trends that show that consumers are gravitating more and more towards visual content. This is a trend that has been evident since as early as 2012, as users moved away from traditional blogging in favor of the shorter, more succinct Facebook status. Twitter took things a step further by limiting posts to their signature 140 characters.

Now, it seems, social media users agree that a picture can be worth a thousand words. While the popularity of text-based platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn wane, Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr are seeing explosive growth in their respective active user bases. Even before then, studies show, consumers were much more likely to interact with a brand if the brand posted pictures, rather than other forms of media.

This is a movement advertisers need to keep an eye on, as the most lucrative areas for placing ads seem to be shifting towards these newer applications. For example, although Facebook is experiencing a slower growth rate than Instagram, the company will still reap any benefits to be had from future marketing opportunities on the platform due to their acquisition of Instagram back in 2012.

Week In Marketing: Branded Selfies, Scoring and Blocking Ads, Online Shopping, Real Life Campaign


1. Snapchat to Allow Branded Selfies
Remember the craze of the limited time rainbow vomit special effect on snapchat? Well now companies can make their own filter and users can have branded selfies — an effort by Snapchat to make money. Previously companies could only have sticker filters, but now the opportunity is being expanded to custom lens creations to allow a unique experience for users to connect with companies and brands.

2. Facebook Scores Ads
Think of it as a review of performance, Facebook plans to start scoring the ads and sharing this information with the companies. This information is already used by Facebook to make decisions on ad placements among other things. Initially the scores will be on a scale of 1-13, Facebook hopes companies will use their scores to optimize their ads.

3. More Shopping Opportunities for users on Twitter
Users have been able to directly buy from twitter from select companies. Now Twitter has just extended that opportunity to more retailers with their new partnerships. This will allow more companies to offer the “buy now” feature and offer users the opportunity to shop directly on Twitter.

4. Digicel blocks ads. What does this mean for the rest of us?
A small celluar company, Digicel, has made the decision to block mobile ads unless they pay. Alone, this does not seem like something that directly effects anyone outside of Digicel, but this could open up another branch of the war against advertising. The company says they just want to receive some of the money being taken by ads using their infrastructure. Will this start a trend with carriers?

5. The Real, Real Life campaign
In an effort to reach the average consumer, Campbell Soup’s new Real, Real Life Campaign shows parents with their children in a 15-30 second bit that tells about a moment, not a whole story. This campaign not only showcases what real American families looks like, but will also be tailored to the weather. If a snowstorm comes through, the commercial will be shown on the weather channel website and will even use the name of the blizzard as the mom stocks up on Campbell soup for her son.

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Week In Marketing: LinkedIn, Dove Campaign, PR Stunt, Twitter Characters, Snicker Wrappers

linkedin-elevate1. LinkedIn Introduces Elevate
LinkedIn launched a new content curation and social sharing platform called Elevate. Elevate allows companies to maximize their marketing potential by turning their best assets into marketing tools. Elevate permits employers to curate both internal and external web content which employees can then share through their personal social media accounts. This platform allows employers to maximize their content reach and generate further online engagement with new audiences.

2. Dove Looks to Improves Teenage Girls’ Body Image
The latest installment of Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” has teenage girls talking about the one thing that they would change about themselves. The video is composed of interviews with teenage girls, each of which as a physical feature that they would like to change. The story is displayed through a cycle, ending with the first girl that appeared in the video. The video looks to foster a positive body image in young girls by showing that everyone has problems with confidence and body image.

3. Call of Duty’s Controversial PR Stunt
Call of Duty, a massively popular video game franchise, made quite a stir this week when they sent out 20 tweets about a “terrorist attack” in Singapore. The “attack” was fictitious and was meant to set the scene for the first mission of their new game, Call of Duty: Black Ops 3. Even though the “attack” was fabricated, Call of Duty’s marketing ploy caused outrage around the world. Many believed the move to be extremely insensitive and thoughtless, and the stunt has lost them a lot of support.

4. Twitter Rethinks 140-Character Limit
Twitter has been known for its 140-character limit since the platform’s conception, but that could be changing in the near future as the social media site questions its limitations. Twitter’s potential move to expand the character limit has had varying reactions. Many see the potential for increased customer service, with retailers being able to provide more complete troubleshooting in fewer tweets. However, others fear that the increased character limit could lead to more “long-form” content, which goes against Twitter’s to-the-point sufficiency.

5. Snickers New Name-Calling Wrappers
Snickers has taken a page out of Coke’s marketing book and is putting names on their wrappers. However, unlike Coke, the names on Snickers’ wrappers aren’t necessarily nice. In conjunction with their “You’re not you when you’re hungry” ads, Snickers’ wrappers have adjectives, or “hunger symptoms,” such as Cranky, Grouchy, Curmudgeon and Spacey.

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How Are Ads Impacting the Consumer?

These days, a cell phone can easily double as an all-in-one shopping companion. Any info about a new product or service can be accessed in the palm of a person’s hands. According to Mashable, mobile continues to be the fastest-growing platform in digital advertising. It is regularly touted as the most personal screen yet, which makes it a primary candidate for hosting ads that connect with the consumer on a more emotional level. The convenience and directness of mobile advertising gives ad developers the opportunity to contextualize the moment, add to the moment, and then turn it all into a sensory moment by adding touches such as a vibration or sound.


So what does this mean? Not much, if you fail to figure out just how these advertisements are impacting the consumer in the first place.

The mobile phone has changed the way the consumer views advertising. So, isn’t it time that we change the way we create advertising?

Neuromarketing research allows advertisers to access and tap into the emotional and subconscious responses that a consumer is already experiencing when they encounter an advertisement. Researchers are able to record and analyze a person’s emotional response to sensory stimuli. This offers insight on the actual impact that ads are having on their target audience, on a much deeper level than can be gleaned from more traditional research methods, such as surveys or interviews.

One prime example is how we helped a national turkey brand use Neuromarketing research to extend their brand beyond Thanksgiving. We recorded the biometric responses of consumer response to a series of concept boards focused on Thanksgiving experiences. Biometric measurement of galvanic skin response, heart rate, and respiration, allowed our research team to get a glimpse into the unconscious emotional responses to Holiday festivities. Based on the study results, we were able to understand the emotional meaning of the Thanksgiving experience and the role the turkey brand played. The results of this study led us to develop implications for brand extension beyond Thanksgiving and an emotionally engaging campaign.

This methodology can be adapted for every medium of advertising, including mobile phone advertisements. As a consumer experiences a wide range of emotions and levels of engagement on a daily basis, A key to highly effective adverting is to understand which messages evoke positive emotions

Neuromarketing research can help highlight and understand these highs and lows, and develop more engaging messages for specific demographics. Want to learn more about Neuromarketing research and how it works? Download our white paper here.