Mountain Dew’s new mobile-first campaign is only effective if it can facilitate offline conversation.

Ah, the smell of a fresh and clean new year. There is nothing more inspiring than shaking off last year’s blues and scribbling down some new resolutions. While most of us only think of New Year’s resolutions on January 1st, marketing departments and agencies have been thinking about them since the previous third quarter. The discussion of what works, what will be new, and the planning around it is extensive — and there is no better example of this than Mountain Dew’s new mobile-first global campaign.

The fizzing citrus drink announced their global ad initiative earlier this month, and it will bring significant changes to the brand including a revised slogan, a refreshed visual identity, and most importantly a strategy shift. The millennial generation is at the heart of the update. Like many other brands targeting current 20 – 36 year olds, Mountain Dew is shifting its strategy to meet the younger generations at the cool hangout spot, their mobile phone.

Greg Lyons, senior vice president of marketing at Mountain Dew, North America stated, “Knowing that millennial consumers see messages first in the palm of their hands, it’s no longer about figuring out how creative can be optimized for mobile at the end of production, but now how it can be designed to thrive in mobile from the outset.”

To promote their creative theme, “the feeling of doing”, they teamed up with pro skateboarder Sean Malto. The video spot showed the skateboarder jumping over the hood of a car and then afterwards taking gulps of Mountain Dew. While the creative concept isn’t a standout one (from my POV), what is outstanding is how they distributed it to their target consumers. The ad initially appeared on the pro skateboarder’s Facebook Page in vertical format.

Sean Malto Facebook Page Video Screenshot

If you look closely, you can see that the video views count is at 3 million! (As of January 24, 2017.) The video also received 926 comments. In addition to this post, Mountain Dew plans to utilize Snapchat, Facebook Live, Facebook Video, Instagram Stories and Twitter to encourage further engagement with the brand.

Right now you might be thinking, “These tactics aren’t outside the norm of a standard marketing plan. What makes this so different?” The difference, and maybe why the post received so much engagement, is because mobile phone usage is at the center of the strategy. Think of it like a solar system, the mobile phone is the sun and the tactics and creative revolve around that. To give you a more definitive understanding, here is a definition:

According to Aaron Strout, the term mobile first “is intended to mean that as a company thinks about its website or its other digital means of communications, it should be thinking critically about the mobile experience and how customers and employees will interact with it from their many devices.”

So, creating a mobile-first strategy is about considering in every aspect of planning and execution how your target consumer will interact with your content via a mobile phone. Understanding millennials’ phone usage and adapting to it is vital in getting your message in front of their eyes; however, does this approach affect sales and purchase intent?

I recently read The Face-to-Face Book: Why Real Relationships Rule in a Digital Marketplace by Ed Keller and Brad Fay. (A recommended read for anyone in the marketing field.) The book explores the new realm of social media marketing concluding that although this new digital world plays a part in our lives, focusing solely on this medium to drive conversation and sales – like PepsiCo did in 2010 – is not a smart marketing move.

What the authors do conclude is that online and offline conversation are vastly different, and word of mouth or face-to-face conversation is much more potent than online social media interaction. To quote from the book, “brands shouldn’t begin with social media engagement as their primary goal, but with an idea that, as Singh wrote, can live in a number of different channels. The strategy should be about engaging people with ideas they will want to share with others, and using all appropriate vehicles that will encourage them to do so.”

And I repeat, “… strategy should be about engaging people with ideas they will want to share with others, and using all appropriate vehicles that will encourage them to do so.”

Now this doesn’t mean to discard engagement goals if you are using social media as a vehicle to promote your brand and message, but what it does mean is that you need to make sure the content you are distributing via those channels is disrupting your consumers ordinary expectations, or “schema”. Disrupting someone’s schema makes a person stop and think, and if you have disrupted their schema the person tends to want to talk about what happened with others to rationalize the situation. In marketing terms it means your ad message must work to disrupt a target consumer’s world so they will then feel compelled to talk about the brand message.

In respect to Mountain Dew’s campaign strategy, they believe a mobile-first campaign is the best way to engage millennials with the idea of “There’s no feeling like doing.” If that idea breaks through millennials’ schemas, causing them to stop and talk about the “feeling” they have when skateboarding or drinking a Mountain Dew, then the campaign will prove to be successful.

What do you think about mobile-first campaigns? Will it prove to be a successful strategy for the millennial audience? Place your thoughts below.

-Caroline Robinson

Learning with Lynda: An affordable resource for young professionals

The year twenty-sixteen started out a little hazy. I had a full-time job; however, I didn’t want to make a career out of it. After soul searching, I decided on digital marketing. So, with my metaphorical compass in hand, I started my journey. It wasn’t long before I stumbled and realized that although I had some great skills in my back pocket, I had way more to learn.

When getting started in any career you have to have a foundation. While my background in communication studies and sales helped, I was still missing vital knowledge of digital concepts. Skills that topped the list were SEO, content marketing, web analytics, such as Google Analytics, and digital paid ads. (I was able to identify these highly sought after skills by looking at job postings.) This is when the million-dollar question was posed; how could I learn these skills from an authoritative source at an affordable price?

I proceeded to find the answer by searching for classes or certificates I could earn. I even enquired with a local community college about the courses they offered, but no one from the department returned my call. That is when a good friend of mine recommended Lynda.com.lynda-com-logoLynda.com, or Lynda for short, is an online learning platform featuring video courses taught by industry leaders. You can take the classes at your own pace – watching on a laptop or through their mobile app – and the best part is the most expensive plan is only $34.99 a month.

Lynda.com specifically specializes in teaching business, software, technology, and creative, all relevant skills to the marketing communication discipline. You can watch as little or as much ask you like and there are no test or deadlines. Some courses even have short quizzes after every chapter.

While affordability and convenience made me try the platform. It was the platforms functionality that made me fall in love. One of my favorite components is the way Lynda groups and divides their courses. For example, they have a section called Learning Paths that is great for recent graduates. This feature works like a custom playlist, bringing together courses around one job position. Completion of each path gives you substantial background knowledge of the field and tips, tricks, and strategies to help you do that specific job.

They also divide their individual courses into a section and chapter format. This makes it easy to identify areas of interest without having to watch the whole course. To give an example, I watched a refresher course on WordPress. One section was focused on “Extending WordPress with Plugins” and one of the chapters inside was called “Finding, vetting, and selecting plugins.”

Everyone’s time is valuable, so to help with the continued learning search, I identified three cohorts that I believe would benefit the most from this learning tool.

  1. Recent graduates looking to gain specific skills they did not acquire in college.
  2. Professionals looking to brush up on or widen their skillset.
  3. Business owners who aren’t specialized in the area they need help in. For example, a mechanic looking to market his business.

Starting a career or being excellent in your field requires continuous learning. To do that successfully you have to find a channel that works for you. Finding the right quality and flexible learning opportunities at an affordable price isn’t easy and Lynda is a great digital tool to help marketing communication professionals continue that education.

-Caroline Robinson

Marketing winners of the 2016 presidential election

Congrats Donald, you beat the odds and proved your own party wrong. The road to the White House for the two presidential candidate nominees was close and fierce. Attack ads and finger pointing took center stage. Thank goodness it is over.

This year the candidates spent millions purchasing ad space to feed their message to the people. Their campaigns offer opportunities for marketing communication professionals such as designers, media buyers, strategists, copywriters, videographers, animators, etc., to create new and innovative content. While we could go without some of the negative ads, there were many creative pieces that should be recognized. Here are my picks for the outstanding election marketing pieces from brands, advocacy groups, and even one of the candidates.

BRANDS

The Pedigree Experiment

Pet food company Pedigree created a heartwarming segment showing that love for dogs can cross political divides. The video’s premise is a woman trying to help find the lost owner of a golden retriever during the candidates’ rallies. The twist is that she shows up to each rally wearing the opponents t-shirt. While causing some confusion amongst the supporters, the helpless dog is enough distraction for them to agree on one thing, “We have our differences, but everyone loves dogs.”

Props to Pedigree for connecting dog food with the most important decision of our country. The ad was a great at showing what the Pedigree brand stands for, the love and respect of animals. Something we all can stand behind together.

Weather Channel’s 9-hour ‘Escape the Election’

 I know this year’s presidential race caused a lot of anxiety and stress, so I hope everyone took advantage of the Weather Channel’s election escape programming. They hosted a 9-hour marathon of “the most beautiful, awe-inspiring, and calming weather video and scenery ever caught on tape” to help calm election nerves.

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The Weather Channel’s move to offer a place of tranquility was genius, as most people wanted to run from this election before the party nominees were even announced. The best part of this marathon was the Weather Channel’s press release for it. Check out the press release here.

Hefty trashes political ads

This campaign was perhaps the cleverest out of all election ads. The Hefty trash bag brand spoke for most U.S. citizens by trashing the detested political ads. The brand purchased pre-roll ad space on YouTube and ad placement on media websites like CNN, Fox News, AOL and The Huffington Post. They were simple and stated, “This political ad has been trashed thanks to Hefty.” Bravo, Hefty. Bravo. I only wonder how much they paid for these primetime spots.

Hefty 2016 election ad from Ad Age Communication Minded

ADVOCACY GROUPS

 NextGen Climate with celeb endorser Aziz Ansari

This year NextGen Climate took a page from Rock the Vote’s book and hired celebrities to help endorse their cause. NextGen Climate is a group that targets millennials and “acts politically to prevent climate disaster and promote prosperity.” One of their ads featured comedian Aziz Ansari. In the video Ansari is comically outraged at the fact young people need him, of all celebrities, to tell them to vote. He ends his rant with a “go vote” plea before stomping off camera.

This ad is a fun spin on celeb endorsement, as his complaining – or disbelief – about having to spend his lunch break encouraging those undecided youngsters to vote is quite different from any other celeb endorsement.

Rock the Vote exclusive polling music

To avoid the lines I voted early; however, after hearing this news I wish I had waited to get these exclusive tracks. Rock the Vote partnered with musical artists Watsky and Adam Vida, Local Natives, and the Head and the Heart to release new tunes for those who waited in line on Tuesday. The catch was you could only stream the music if you were at a registered polling location.

The Candidates 

“Mirrors” from the Hillary Clinton Campaign

Ad Age created a list of the top shared presidential campaign ads and this ad was number one with 555,918 shares. The “Mirrors” ad highlights Trump’s negative comments about women’s looks while showing young girls, who presumably don’t fit that mold, looking at their reflections in mirrors. It is an ad that tugs on your heart as a woman, a parent, or anyone who has respect for females. It is easily the most memorable ad from her campaign and one that likely influenced a lot of voters to consider casting their ballot for her.

There were tons of marketing campaigns and ads produced during the 2016 election process. Did you have any favorites that didn’t make my list? Share them with me in a comment below.

-Caroline Robinson

Bonus Content: If you follow me on Snapchat, you will know I’m obsessed with their filters. Here is a collection of my favorite election filters.

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The Must Read Book for Every Twentysomething

If you are looking for a way to invest your college graduation money go to Amazon right now and order The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter–And How to Make the Most of Them Now by Meg Jay.

Why should I read this book? Reading this book will help you make sense of the universe! Well … your universe. For most of us the first twenty years of our lives follow a specific framework. Something similar to the one outlined below.

Step 1: Make good grades in school and get into college.

Step 2: Go to college and GRADUATE!

Step 3: Get a job? Start a career? Go for additional schooling? Travel?

Our existence has been so rigidly planned that once we get to step three, or hit a bump in the road, we don’t know what to do with ourselves. Not having a clear path or some sort of direction can be paralyzing and lead to stagnancy.

Photo of book The Defining Decade: Why your twenties matter - and how to make the most of them nowThe Defining Decade helps one to think about what they want in life and helps outline some of the things that one needs to consider for that life. Jay, a clinical psychologist, shares what she has learned from years of working with twentysomethings. This isn’t a book of tips and tricks but of deep reflection. Through her research she comes to the conclusion that our twenties are meaningful despite the cultural status quo that the thirties are the new twenties.

What this means it that our time is not limitless. Here is an excerpt from the 2013 paperback edition.

“Your twenties matter. Eighty percent of life’s most defining moments take place by age thirty-five. Two-thirds of lifetime wage growth happens in the first ten years of a career. More than half of us are married, or dating, or living with our future partner, by age thirty. Personality changes more during our twenties than at any time
before or after. The brain caps off its last growth spurt in the twenties. Female fertility peaks at age twenty-eight.”

These are things most of us don’t consider as we are venturing out to shape ourselves. When reading this book you will find yourself saying, “That is exactly how I feel!” The three sections are shaped around the main aspects of one’s life: work, love, and the brain and body. Therefore, if you feel you have mastered one, you can skip to the section you feel you need insight on.

Have you ordered the book yet? If not, get on it! Tell me what part you most related to or what part you found most surprising?

Still haven’t decided if this book is worth a read. Check out Meg Jay’s TED Talk below.

-Caroline Robinson

An in-depth look into the cord-cutting trend and what new live-streaming capabilities mean for advertisers

I love TV. The intricate story lines, the relevancy of episodes, and the development of characters are captivating. When you find me with the TV on I am most likely catching up on recorded shows like How To Get Away with Murder or binge watching a new series on Netflix. Seriously, if you need suggestions I have you covered.

Until about a year ago I was actually a cord cutter. For those unfamiliar with this term it is the ditching of traditional pay television. You have heard us use it in past blog posts such as “Is Rock the Vote rocking young voters?” and “In Television Ads We Trust”.

For a lot of millennials the shedding of cable or never getting pay TV comes down to one factor. Can I pay my bills? Many young professionals would rather spend their leftover income on craft beer and experiences before giving it to a company whose programming they barely watch. There were two reasons my roommate and I went with cable. The first was that she consumed programing that required a pay-TV subscription – she is a fan of football and The Real Housewives – and the second was that new customer pricing wasn’t much more than stand-alone Internet with Hulu, Sling TV, and Netflix.

Now, a year after our decision, not only are there digital platforms to show broadcast and original entertainment like Amazon Prime, Sling TV, and HBO NOW, but there are also social platforms streaming live content.

cordcutting

With all these new ways to watch, I was curious as to how much the television industry was being affected by the cord-cutting trend. Rhetoric in the media suggests cable and satellite doom. However, in reality, only one-quarter of all US TV watchers go without cable and satellite subscriptions, according to a GfK study. The households with 18-34 year olds are most likely to go for alternative TV content and in a Fortune online article, whose numbers are a tad different, the percentage of cable-free homes will rise from 20.4% to 21.9% by the end of 2016. Not a big significance.

The reasons behind the shift aren’t rocket science but here are some cited justifications.

While the cord-cutting trend is growing, as an advertiser I wouldn’t be too worried. Cable still has a large number of TV subscribers and TV network’s content is still being watched – just in a different way.

According to Adweek’s article “Live Viewership May Be Down, but TV Content Is Still the Main Thing People Are Streaming”, TV consumers are spending more time with time-shifted TV, or TV that is watched after the live broadcast. To put this into context, 67% of Hulu viewers enjoy watching network TV shows the most. In fact, a report from the Video Advertising Bureau (VAB) found that total video consumption has slightly risen over the past year.

The VAB research is particularly interesting as their conclusion was that ad-supported TV brands and video streaming have a symbiotic relationship; they increase viewership. Overall, “there’s been a healthy increase in the amount of time consumers spend with TV brands across platforms – including TV-branded websites, mobile browsers and apps.”

Isn’t that good news?

Looking at these services as complementary instead of conflicting creates a whole new juxtaposition. It brings to mind an old marketing saying – go to where your consumers are.

This is exactly what some brands are choosing to do with their video content and social platforms like Twitter are helping them to do it. Cable and satellite were once sole distributers of live content, but Twitter’s recent deal with the NFL is working to make live sports easily consumable, even for cord cutters.

In preparation for this live-stream of Thursday night football, Twitter partnered with streaming devices like Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Xbox One to integrate the online TV experience. The result? Twitter’s live-stream of the Patriots-Texans game caught the attention of 327,000 people; a relatively low number compared to the 17.5 million it captured on TV. For advertisers these games shed light on live-streaming habits. One notable difference is that consumers of live content on social platforms aren’t watching full games. Viewers tuned in for an average of 22 minutes, which is one-third the amount of time expected of someone watching a football game the traditional way.

live-streaming devices

More impressive was the live-stream of the 2016 presidential debates. Its stream on Twitter passed NFL audience numbers and overall attracted 9.5 million between all live-streaming platforms (Facebook, YouTube, news websites, etc.).

These debates offer insights into the vitality of live-streaming. Andrew Hutchinson from Social Media Today reported an interesting trend. Live-streaming audience numbers increased every debate while TV audience numbers fluctuated. The first debate attracted 84 million people on TV, the highest ever. For the second, TV viewership declined by 20% and then increased again for the third, but it never reached the 84 million the first debate attracted. (Note: overall live-stream audience numbers were drastically less than live TV viewership.)

live-streaming audience size 2016 presidential debate

“As the TV audience declined, more people tuned into the live-streams, showing an increased confidence in, and reliance upon, these platforms as a coverage source.” – Andrew Hutchinson, Social Media Today

Viewership on platforms is one thing but those who are paying to advertise have said these live-streaming platforms under delivered. Advertisers on Twitter said they saw significant underdelivery from their ads during NFL football games. Below are some of the measurements they are referring to.

  • Expectations of audience size 500,000 avg. viewers. Actual, 243,000 avg. viewers.
  • Expectation of number of times each viewer would see an ad, three. Actual, one.

While this reach might be low compared to subscription TV, as people become used to live-streaming the audience will only become larger. Something that Hutchinson’s insights might be foretelling. As audiences grow so will the adsphere, giving advertisers more ways to reach consumers. New ad options like Facebook’s mid-roll video ads are already available in live video.

Keep in mind we are in live-streaming’s heyday. Advertisers who figure it out early will only have more success in the future. As Octagon’s Chief Strategy Officer Simon Wardle stated when speaking about the Summer Olympics, “Media buying is going towards not only wanting those traditional media spots, but integrating them with digital, especially when you have live-streaming. Having a presence on those platforms for brands in my mind is essential, because it’s disproportionately likely to be watched by these 18-to-34-year-olds, the elusive teen and young adult audience.”

-Caroline Robinson

Branded in 1926

Last month my family and I were honored to get together and celebrate my grandma’s 90th birthday. Born in 1926, she has lived through the Great Depression, WWII, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Apollo 11 moon landing.

To help her celebrate, we held a party filled with activities honoring her birth year including a 1926 trivia game. My aunt also put 1926 goodie bags together. The goodies were items from companies or brands founded in 1926, and included signed posters from the Harlem Globetrotters, pins from the IGA and HomeTrust Bank, Mt. Olive Pickles, Q-tips, Haggar Clothing, and candies such as Godvia chocolates, Milk Duds, Slo Poke, and Squirrel Nut Zippers.

As we stood around singing “Happy Birthday”, I realized we were marking my grandma’s 90 years on earth with brands! We were celebrating their achievements right beside hers. Associating their legacy with her. In today’s culture, consumerism begins when we are born. Even before we can speak and walk we are branded. We may later on choose our own brand identities by associating ourselves with products that match our changing lifestyle, but no longer are the days where we are simply known by the name our parents give us or by what we have achieved. Our personal identity – or brand – is made up of the products we consume and a product’s brand is made up of its users’ stories.

hometrustbank-pic

A few weeks later HomeTrust Bank wrote a short content piece highlighting the celebration and the gifts they sent. They shared the piece on social media along with a photo of my grandma holding the goods.

This is just one example of a company integrating a user’s story into their brand and using it to engage with customers. What are some creative ways you have seen brands engage with customers? What ways have you seen brands celebrate their anniversaries?

-Caroline Robinson

Eager to please, eager to keep: The new employee, employer relationship

As recent graduates and young professionals we are eager to please. Competing against the thousands of other resumes in circulation and the lingering notation of the difficulty of finding a job in today’s economy, we strive to shake the most hands, to land the best interviews, and to deliver the best results. However, as we worked our way through school, a subliminal but steady undertone was, and is still, happening in the job market we are now entering… baby boomers are heading out, and milennials are flooding in.

In the age of information it is no secret that younger generations are becoming more skilled, more savvy, and more talented than each previous. And as demands grow, so do expectations. If we are expected the deliver the best, we also expect to receive. A recent Gallup poll reports that 21% of millennials say they’ve changed jobs within the past year, more than three times the number of non-millennials. The report also notes that 60% are open to another job opportunity, signaling to employers that less and less of their staff see a future with them.

For executives to maintain recruitment and retention they need to understand culture. Employers must show they can support a millenial’s lifestyle just as much as they can support their career. As a result, employers are showcasing their office space as a direct extension of their work culture.

Cubicles are out and nap pods are in.

Millennials value an environment that offers collaboration, flexibility, and technology. The best offices are ones that can adapt to these desires. It’s increasing common to see spaces that offer open floor plans, cafes, fitness centers, game rooms, pet care, and more.

One of Caroline’s previous workspaces had a basketball court and bowling alley.

food-court

One of the eateries inside the Red Ventures headquarters. Photo from glassdoor.com

Check out Fortune’s article on the “25 coolest offices of the 100 best companies”. What kind of amenities is your office providing? How important is your working space to your productivity, creativity, and plans to stay with your employer?

-Savannah Valade