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Nancy Lazarus

Hollywood, Marketing Execs Talk Trends in Branded Entertainment

Madison & Vine BookBrands partnering with entertainment outlets to produce content represent an effective, though selective phenomenon, according to entertainment executives at a recent Creative Week panel in New York. They were there to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of Scott Donaton‘s book, Madison & Vine that spotlighted the trend.

“It was about marketing in an end-user controlled world. It was initially fear-based, that TV viewers would skip ads because of the introduction of TIVO. The thought was that brands could say worthy things that are story-based”, explained Donaton, former editor of Ad Age, and currently global chief content officer at UM Studio.

Key takeaways revolve around the evolution and dynamics involved:

Defining moments of branded entertainment abound, especially BMW Films (aka the gold standard) and BMW videos featuring Daniel Craig as James Bond. The Restaurant TV show also broke new ground. “The show’s thesis was that restaurants were the new theatre”, said Ben Silverman, founder and chairman of Electus. Of course, it’s easy to see that now, but it was rather novel at the time. Among other notable collaborations are American Idol and Coca-Cola, The Biggest Loser and 24-Hour Fitness, and Transformers movie and Hasbro.

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Holland Tourism: Masters of Cool

Amsterdam Clipper Ship Sign2 Cropped“I never had such a good backdrop”, said President Obama. During a recent state visit to The Netherlands, he took a side trip to Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum, home of Rembrandt’s renowned Nightwatch painting. As his comment indicates, he was duly impressed. Only select destinations worldwide merit presidential visits, and a visit to The Hague prompted Obama’s trip.

The President’s visit may help put The Netherlands front and center for U.S. travelers, who represent the country’s fourth largest source of visitors. The Dutch tourism effort in the U.S. has been quite active lately, as Holland continues to upgrade its star attractions. Many of its famous museums are being renovated, and they’re reopening in stages.

We checked with The Netherlands Board of Tourism & Conventions (NBTC) about its PR and marketing programs. They partnered with Amsterdam Marketing, Amsterdam Airport Schiphol and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines for a 3-year joint marketing program, “Holland. The Original Cool”. The campaign’s video series has been the most visible joint effort. Launched last year, it features Pim de Koel, the country’s cool brand ambassador, as he teaches an American traveler about unique aspects of Dutch culture. Last year the video received over a million views, and this year it’s a three-part series, with the second episode debuting today.

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Internet Week New York Is Around the Corner

Internet Week New York 2014 Design Within Reach1 Cropped“People ultimately want homes that work, and they don’t want to think about repairs. In the future, with smart homes and the ‘Internet of Things’, your home will take care of you”. Those comments were made by design specialists during a recent Internet Week New York preview panel. Manhattan’s Hudson Yards development, slated to open starting in 2017, serves as an example of high-tech, low- maintenance homes.

While residential projects like these are farther away on the horizon, Internet Week New York is only a month from now. The weeklong citywide festival showcasing the impact of technology on business, entertainment and culture will take place starting May 19. While 250  events will be held around town, Internet Week HQ is Metropolitan Pavilion, a spacious venue conveniently located in Chelsea.

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The Multifaceted Asian Consumer Market

Uniqlo Store SoHo Mannequins1 Cropped“Overall Asia is a market in flux, with radical changes and an influx of tech and global brands. It creates a society where consumers are being pulled in different directions”, said Bernd Schmitt. Not only are there distinctions between developed and emerging Asian countries, but he noted it’s also important not to generalize or stereotype Asian consumer and cultural trends.

Schmitt’s perspective is based on extensive experience living, working and traveling throughout Asia. He’s a visiting professor at Singapore’s Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI) and professor at New York’s Columbia Business School. He recently spoke at an event in New York about his latest book, The Changing Face of the Asian Consumer. Joining him were panelists Colin Mitchell, Ogilvy & Mather’s worldwide head of planning, and Brian Buchwald, CEO/co-founder of Bomoda, a marketplace for Chinese consumers to purchase premium global brands.

The main takeaways focus on the interplay of economic, cultural, brand and market factors.

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Brand Moves: Audi Snaps Into Action and E*TRADE Scraps the Cheeky Baby

Audi Snapchat Dog Courtesy of HUGEBeing a brand that’s witty, irreverent or challenges convention isn’t so easy, especially since those companies set the bar high and their customers come to expect unique, creative ads and social communications. Two such brands, Audi and E*TRADE, shared their stories at Ad Age’s Digital Conference this week in New York. Audi detailed their use of Snapchat during the Super Bowl game, and E*TRADE discussed their decision to end their popular baby ad campaign.

Audi picks up the pace: “Being a challenger brand gives us an edge”, said Anna Russell, Audi’s general manager of brand marketing. She outlined the car brand’s core messages: they’re “champions of progress”, using LED lighting, they “challenge convention”, particularly with their Quattro system, and they’re a “brand of action” and frequent sports sponsor.

Still, as Aaron Shapiro, CEO of their agency, HUGE, noted, with the Oreo effect, “now every brand is piling on no matter how relevant or not” in real-time marketing during events. He said Audi didn’t want to use a “me-too strategy”. (Plus, they needed to be careful since they were involved in a 2010 Super Bowl campaign controversy).

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More Online Fashion Brands Eyeing Retail Stores as Core to their Business Models

Warby Parker Store UES Window Final“We’re trying to blend both worlds so they complement each other”, said Tim Riley, director of online experience at eyewear brand Warby Parker. He spoke on a panel recently about web-based fashion companies at FIAF (French Institute/Alliance Francaise). Warby Parker is one of a number of fashion brands in the post-startup phase that’s ventured into retail space. Another panelist, Mollie Chen, editorial director of Birchbox, said the beauty products packager is planning to open its first store in SoHo.

Digital-only brands have long been perceived as more cost-effective since they don’t need to pay steep expenses for designing and maintaining posh locales and sales staff. But internet-based companies have found that online-only doesn’t work for all categories. The in-person experience also adds a valuable dimension, forming a holistic customer relationship.

These two brands tested the waters first before investing in retail locations.

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Analyze This: The Latest Digital and Consumer Intel from ARF’s RE:THINK Conference

Do Not Disturb Sign Final CroppedComing to terms with issues surrounding big data and digital’s vast terrain seems like running on an endless treadmill. But at ARF’s RE:THINK 2014 conference in New York this week, attendees found some answers to dilemmas like online consumer privacy, what drives contagious content and defining digital metrics. A research survey, mnemonic device and reference guide all contained clues, and below are key takeaways.

Consumers’ reaction to online privacy incursions: Do not disturb.
“The creepy part of privacy invasion is when they get it right”, said Communispace‘s chairman, Diane Hessan. Her firm collaborated with Pew Research Center, conducting research among 50 global communities, to understand tradeoffs between online privacy and personalization.

The key finding: 86% of consumers would stop data tracking if they could. Only 14% would like to receive targeted offers based on purchase or browsing histories. Older consumers are more concerned with privacy, and younger ones are more open to offers. Online users want to avoid invaders like hackers or advertisers, finding targeted ads to be annoying, creepy and intrusive.

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Cute Celebrity Cats Call the Creative Shots on YouTube, and 10 Other Video Pointers

YouTube viewers love cat videos, but it’s not all fun and games for feline performers, according to Michael Fasciano, social content director at Digitas. At 2014’s Media Summit in New York last week, he spoke on a panel about YouTube, offering a behind-the-scenes account of negotiations for his client to sign Maru, a male cat living in Japan and worldwide YouTube sensation.

Maru has been a YouTube star for a few years, consistently drawing throngs of worldwide viewers, and his owner posts videos under the account name Mugumogu. When a Digitas client wanted to feature Maru, who “jumps into a lot of things”, Fasciano sprang into action. He tracked down the cat and owner, confirming the relationship with a contract. Then he made arrangements to bring an American production crew to Tokyo.

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Kate Spade’s CMO: ‘The Customer Has a Voice and So Do We’

Kate Spade Window FinalWhen kate spade looked to expand beyond its handbag business five years ago, its team went on a brand-and-soul-searching exercise. As CMO and SVP Mary Beech noted, they already knew the demos for their target audience, but those weren’t enlightening enough. After an extensive brand audit, they arrived at their current positioning: kate spade inspires you to lead a more interesting life.

On Tuesday, Beech spoke at the Brite ‘14 Conference, hosted by Columbia Business School’s Center for Global Brand Leadership in New York. She discussed how kate spade’s voice reflects its customers’ lifestyles and how it’s been integrated into digital platforms, employees’ mindsets and in-store experiences.

Brand voice and guidelines: For kate spade, becoming more familiar with their consumers meant a 360 degree understanding of their preferences, such as books and hotels, as well as celebrating customers’ sense of humor. They now define the ideal customer’s personality as culturally curious, quick, playful, spirited and chic.

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Metropolitan Museum’s Chief Digital Officer Shares His Artful Perspective on Social Media

Met Museum Roof Cloud City FinalWhat does New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art have in common with the Broadway musicals Kinky Boots and Jersey Boys, the Frick Collection and the Manhattan skyline? They’re all top five NYC attractions on TripAdvisor.

That’s what Sree Sreenivasan discovered when he checked the popular travel review site. He’s the Met Museum’s first chief digital officer, and formerly worked as Columbia University’s chief digital officer and professor at their journalism school. He spoke at The New York Times Travel Show on Friday about the museum’s digital initiatives.

The Met’s exhibits and collection ranges from modern sculpture (Cloud City 2012, above) to ancient objects (William the Hippo, below). The museum has long been active on digital fronts, like interactive video screens, digital photography and social media. The Met’s digital efforts are especially interesting given its global audience and high-profile art fans, like celebs Bono, Psy and Steve Martin.

Sreenivasan’s goal is to enhance and expand on the museum’s existing digital programs, leaving no masterpiece unturned. He outlined the Met ‘s current social media status and future plans. He also shared tips that can apply as examples beyond the art world.

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