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Welcome to The Stream: Allison+Partners’ content hub that features the latest news and trends making the biggest waves in media and marketing.

AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 22, 2019 //     

Brands must remain silent about Hong Kong: PR chief

Credit: PRWeek

In the current volatile situation in mainland China and Hong Kong, brands have had to calculate their messaging and responses carefully, lest they get caught in a web of crisis comms. We’ve learnt in the last week that things could implode in a matter of minutes, and backlash can make or break a brand faster that one can say ‘tear gas’.

David Wolf, managing director, Allison Advisory at Allison+Partners, tells PRWeek Asia that this is simply the price to pay for doing business in China.

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AUGUST 22, 2019 //     

Dick’s Sporting Goods reports strong earnings amid experiment in reducing gun sales

Credit: The Washington Post

Dick’s Sporting Goods appears to be on the upswing.

After a slog of dampened sales, Dick’s announced Thursday that same store sales jumped 3.2 percent in the second quarter — marking its strongest showing since 2016. The outdoors retailer’s stock was up more than 7 percent as Dick’s raised its full year guidance.

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AUGUST 22, 2019 //     

Alibaba Postpones Hong Kong Listing as Protests Roil Markets

Credit: New York Times

LONDON — Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant, has postponed plans to list its shares on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, according to two people briefed on the matter, as protests continue to rock the Asian financial capital.

The protests and the instability they created in Hong Kong’s stock market led to the postponement of the offering, which had been expected to take place later this month, according to these people. The offering had been expected to raise $10 billion to $15 billion, one person said.

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AUGUST 22, 2019 //     

Hundreds of Uber and Lyft drivers to launch a protest caravan across California

Credit: TechCrunch

If you’re like me, chances are good you just distractedly clicked on this article while scrolling through your feed in, or while waiting for, a Lyft. Maybe, like me, you need that app to get to back-to-back meetings in different locations today, as you’re well on your way to at least a 60-hour workweek between the various things you do. Maybe you’re exhausted. Maybe the ride you just took, zoning out on your phone in an Uber on Quiet Mode, was actually a lifesaver.

And as you settle into each new driver’s backseat, en route to each new destination in your crazy busy life, maybe, like me, you find yourself somewhat unwittingly implicated in one of the most contentious ethical struggles of this generation – a struggle with profound implications for the future of work.

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AUGUST 22, 2019 //     

Doing Business in China

China is going to be a part of your business whether you like it or not. David Wolf, managing director of Allison Advisory, shares how we help the C-Suite set up their businesses for success in China. 


AUGUST 21, 2019 //     

MoviePass Confirms Security Lapse May Have Exposed Customer Credit Card Data

Credit: Variety

MoviePass, the struggling movie ticket subscription service, confirmed that a security issue may have exposed customers’ records online, including credit card info.

In a statement, MoviePass said Wednesday that the security lapse was recently discovered and its system was immediately secured. News of the data breach was first reported Tuesday by TechCrunch, which alleged that tens of thousands customer records were left exposed on the internet, including MoviePass card numbers and personal credit card data, because a critical server was not protected with a password.

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AUGUST 20, 2019 //     

Instagram got us hooked on likes. What happens when they're gone?

Credit: CNN

New York (CNN Business)Did you like my Instagram photo? Is now a good time to post? Should I delete my picture that only got 20 likes?

Posting an Instagram photo can be stressful for people who care about likes. But in a move to reduce some of that pressure, Instagram is hiding likes for some users in a handful of countries including Canada, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Brazil, Australia and New Zealand. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 20, 2019 //     

Brands must remain silent about Hong Kong: PR chief

Credit: Campaign AsiaIn the current volatile situation in mainland China and Hong Kong, brands have had to calculate their messaging and responses carefully, lest they get caught in a web of crisis comms. Many have chosen to say nothing at all. We’ve learnt in the last week that things could implode in a matter of minutes, and backlash can make or break a brand faster that one can say ‘tear gas’.

David Wolf, managing director, Allison Advisory for Allison+Partners, tells Campaign Asia-Pacific that this is simply the price to pay for doing business in China.

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AUGUST 19, 2019 //     

Twitter and Facebook cut off China from using propaganda to influence Hong Kong protests

Credit: The Drum

Twitter is no longer allowing state-controlled media outlets to advertise on its platform.

Those outlets have 30 days to offboard from Twitter's ad products, and in the meantime no new campaigns will be allowed. State media outlets can still use their Twitter accounts to organically reach audiences, just not use its advertising products.

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AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 19, 2019 //     

2019 Regional PR Consultancies of the Year (Midsize)

Credit: Holmes Report

The 2019 Asia-Pacific PR Consultancies of the Year are the result of an exhaustive research process involving more than 125 submissions and meetings with the best PR firms across the region. 

Consultancy of the Year winners are announced and honoured at the 2019 Asia-Pacific SABRE Awards, which take place on 12 September in Singapore. Analysis of all Finalists and Winners can be accessed via the navigation menu to the right or below:

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AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 19, 2019 //     

Luxury brands must now show they are ‘good Chinese citizens’ after T-shirt territory anger, expert says

Credit: CNBC

Western luxury labels will need to demonstrate that they are good Chinese citizens in the face of territorial sensitivities, according to an expert on branding in the region.

Fashion brands including Givenchy, Coach and Versace apologized last week when some Chinese social media stars canceled their endorsement deals after text on some of their T-shirts suggested that places such as Hong Kong are separate countries from mainland China.

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AUGUST 19, 2019 //     

How the CIA’s social media lead deals with trolls

Credit: PRWeek

LANGLEY, VA: When PRWeek posted a story in June about why the CIA only follows 11 Instagram accounts, a torrent of critical social media comments and emails followed, including one saying that by writing such a "puff piece," the magazine is "complicit in their immoral and reprehensible actions." Another suggested that PRWeek’s editors are "probably in the CIA themselves." 

That remains to be determined. 

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AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 12, 2019 //     

SABRE Awards Asia-Pacific 2019 finalists

Credit: Holmes ReportThe 2019 SABRE Awards Asia-Pacific 2019 shortlist were selected from more than 1,600 entries in this year's competition, which recognizes Superior Achievement in Branding, Reputation and Engagement. The campaigns were evaluated by a jury of more than 45 industry leaders, at separate sessions in Hong Kong and Singapore.

The winners will be announced at the SABRE Awards ceremony on September 12 at the Mandarin Oriental, Singapore along with the Agencies of the Year. Tickets & tables are available here. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 12, 2019 //     

Industry News In Brief (August 12, 2019)

SAN BRUNO — Allison+Partners has launched a new communications consultancy, called Headstand, to handle the firm’s conflict accounts. The consultancy has been operating for the past six months and working with clients including SAP North America, NerdWallet, SideChef, Trov and Xiaomi. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // AUGUST 12, 2019 //     

PRWeek UK Awards 2019: 'early bird' ticket deadline approaches

Credit: PRWeek

The annual awards night - one of the highlights of the UK PR calendar - takes place on Tuesday 15 October at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in Park Lane. Click here for more details on pricing and to book tickets.

See the full list of categories and shortlisted entries below:

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AUGUST 8, 2019 //     

3 Lessons From an Editor of the Largest U.S. Publications (B2C CMY Finalist)

Neil Wertheimer tells it like it is. Driven by a passion to create positive change for people through the journalism he oversees, he makes sure the content his team at AARP creates inspires, educates, and empowers the organization’s enormous, diverse, and savvy audience of over 38 million members.

Neil considers it his mission to use the power of words to benefit the world around him. That’s evident throughout his body of work as deputy editor of AARP The Magazine and the AARP Bulletin, which together deliver a one-two punch against stereotypes about aging. His work overseeing the day-to-day development of those two publications – the two largest-circulation magazines in the United States – earned him a place on our short list of finalists for B2C Content Marketer of the Year.

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AUGUST 7, 2019 //     

Five lessons from five years of growth

By: Serina Tan

If someone had asked me five years ago, “Will you still be with Allison+Partners in 2019?,” I probably would have responded, “Unlikely.”

Let me explain. Before Allison+Partners, my longest tenure at any job was a mere two and a half years. So, five years seemed like an eternity. Not to mention, I started the Singapore office from the ground up. I started with literally nothing – no signage, no office, no chairs and desks, no other colleagues. It was difficult and almost impossible to imagine how things might look in a year, let alone five.

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However, I’m grateful to have had a few secret weapons. I won our first retainer, had a vision to build something special, had plenty of fire in my belly, and, most importantly, had nothing to lose. It was an interesting combination that fortunately led to much success. 

As we celebrate our fifth anniversary with our growing team, here are five lessons I’ve learned along the way: 

  1. Visualisation is key. I set out with the vision of building a close-knit team committed to delivering only best-in-class work. It was meant to be an experiment, but it has since become a reality. I’m proud to say the team we have now is the best version of Allison+Partners Singapore we’ve ever had. If we can dream it, we can do it.
  2. Setting high standards is a competitive edge. It pays off. As an upstart a few years ago, we worked our socks off on a massive competitive pitch and ended up beating more than 15 other more established agencies to win a prestigious account. We surprised ourselves and made competitors who never heard of us sit up in bewilderment. Over the years, most of the business we won has been by word-of-mouth referrals from existing or previous clients who trust us to deliver high-quality results. 
  3. Progress is better than perfection. Many people who have worked closely with me in the past would call me a perfectionist. But during the course of this journey, I’ve learned nobody and nothing is perfect in this world. If we try to get something to be perfect, we will never get there. So, instead of beating ourselves up over life’s imperfections, let’s strive for continuous improvement and celebrate the successes along the way.
  4. Make data-informed decisions, but always trust your gut. Do your research and analyze the situation. But eventually, trust your instincts when making a decision – even if it could be unpopular. Being confident in yourself and your decision-making skills instils trust within your team, which is a key factor to success. 
  5. Best-selling author and psychiatrist Scott Peck said in his book, The Road Less Travelled, “To grow in any dimension, pain as well as joy will be the reward.” I remember how when we were just a three-person team in 2014, I stayed up until 2 a.m. for a few consecutive nights with a bad bout of food poisoning to work on a new business proposal. I felt miserable and wished we had a larger and more experienced team. Guess what – we did eventually win the pitch, and this client remains with Allison+Partners today. There will always be obstacles, doubters, mistakes and setbacks along the way. But with hard work, belief in yourself and perseverance, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Over the past five years, we’ve built a community – not just an office. We are a community of individuals, guided by company values but influenced by their own unique perspectives and experiences. There is a sense of purpose where we hold one another accountable for our shared success.

I come to work smiling every day, looking forward to the diverse perspectives and interactions with our colleagues from Singapore and all over the world. I know this is a work family that I can trust and rely on. Regardless of the ups and downs one would typically experience in a family, I know we will still have each other’s backs at the end of the day. This makes work all the more enjoyable, enabling us to always strive to be the best versions of ourselves.

Someone asked me last week what my best career moment was. Without a doubt, it was my decision to join Allison+Partners five years ago.

Serina Tan is managing director of Asia-Pacific. 

AUGUST 6, 2019 //     

Squad, the ‘anti-bro startup,’ is creating a safe space for teenage girls online;

Credit: TechCrunch

When we go online to communicate, hang out or play, we’re typically logging on to platforms conceived of and built by men.

Mark Zuckerberg famously created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. Evan Spiegel and his frat brother Bobby Murphy devised a plan for the ephemeral messaging app Snapchat while the pair were still students at Stanford. Working out of a co-working space, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger built Instagram and yes, they also went to Stanford.

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AUGUST 5, 2019 //     

Overwhelmed by Pressure to Perform, Kids ‘Retire’ From Sports in ESPN’s New PSA

Credit: Adweek

One of the cautionary tales about parents pushing their children to reach the highest levels of sports is Todd Marinovich. The former USC and Oakland Raiders player was groomed by his father from birth to become a professional footballer, only to fall from grace in some of the most destructive ways possible, including extensive drug use.

While Marinovich is an extreme example, kids today face increasing pressure to perform on the field at a younger age. Whether it’s in attempts to position themselves for scholarships or being the avatars of competitive parents, children, according to an Aspen Institute study, are being set up to fail, resulting in more children ages 6 to 12 dropping out of organized youth sports.

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JULY 30, 2019 //     

Facebook’s Like button poses GDPR risks to host websites

Credit: The Drum

Facebook’s Like button could be more hassle than its worth for European organisations navigating the minefield of GDPR legislation, following a landmark ruling by the European Court of Justice that website owners can be held liable for data collection relating to the use of the widget.

The omnipresent blue-hand is a familiar sight upon even the most cursory of glances around the internet, leaving the door open to web managers being collared by national privacy regulators as being complicit with the well-publicised failings of Facebook itself.

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AGENCY NEWS // JULY 26, 2019 //     

AGENCY BRIEF: A WONDROUS LAUNCH INTO SPACE AND A NEW BREAKFAST BREW

Allison & Partners enters the consulting game
MDC Partners’ Allison & Partners is opening up the doors to its own consultancy. Named Headstand, which the agency says has been operating “in stealth mode” for the past six months, the consultancy works with both Allison & Partner’s clients and its own. Headstand is led by 12-year veteran of the agency, Zach Colvin, who becomes president to oversee the firm’s business development and organic-growth efforts. Stacey Johnes is general manager of Headstand, tasked with supporting financial oversight, staffing and brand development. READ MORE
JULY 25, 2019 //     

This Campaign Uses FaceApp to Age Pictures of Those Whose Deaths Sparked Outrage and Protest

Credit: Adweek

As the internet was becoming obsessed in recent weeks with FaceApp’s new photo-aging feature, three McCann New York creatives realized that the platform can be used to make a visual statement about the impact of police actions and gun violence. Senior designer Emely Perez came up with the initial idea to honor victims like Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Eric Garner and others by using FaceApp to show what each might look like at older ages.

After connecting with McCann New York vp and creative director Gabrielle Shirdan and freelance creative director Dabo Ché, the trio landed on #ItsGettingOld, a project that lives on Instagram. Each image altered by FaceApp includes a brief summary of a news article explaining how each person was killed.

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AGENCY NEWS // JULY 24, 2019 //     

Allison+Partners Launches Headstand to Take on Conflicts and Provide Deeper Levels of Agency-Client Collaboration

Allison+Partners announced the launch of Headstand, an integrated communications consultancy. Born from the stellar client service and award-winning work that has fueled Allison+Partners’ 18 years of growth, Headstand was created to alleviate potential conflicts and to meet the demand for the way today’s clients want to partner with agencies. Headstand will focus on operating as an extension of client teams, providing greater flexibility within the traditional scope of work and offering custom approaches to client challenges. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // JULY 24, 2019 //     

PRWeek UK Awards 2019: shortlist revealed

Credit: PRWeekThe shortlist for the PRWeek UK Awards 2019 has been announced, after an intense judging process that saw hundreds of award entries.

The expert jury panel of more than 100 leading global brands and agencies have decided which entrants are in with a chance of winning at the glitzy annual awards night on Tuesday 15 October at the JW Marriott Grosvenor House in Park Lane.
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AGENCY NEWS // JULY 23, 2019 //     

News of Firms: Allison+Partners Does Headstand; Worldcom Adds MC Comunicaciones of Quito to Club; Public Relations Boutiques International Names Amanda Foley of Kiterocket President

Allison+Partners has launched Headstand, an integrated communications consultancy. The new consultancy is positioned to handle Allison+Partners’ conflict accounts as well as its own book of business. It offers a range of integrated marketing services that includes creative campaign development and execution, brand identity and messaging development, content development, influencer relations, media relations, social engagement and digital programs. Headstand will be led by 12-year Allison+Partners veteran Zach Colvin, who assumes the role of president and will oversee the firm’s business development and organic growth efforts. Stacey Johnes will serve as general manager. Prior to Headstand, Johnes was senior vice president, client service at Allison+Partners, working with consumer brands across multiple industries. Operating in stealth mode for the past six months. Headstand is already working with such clients as SAP North America, NerdWallet, SideChef, Trov and Xiaomi. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // JULY 23, 2019 //     

Allison+Partners launches conflict shop Headstand

Credit: PRWeek

SAN BRUNO, CA: Allison+Partners has launched an integrated communications consultancy known as Headstand.

Zach Colvin, who is leading the firm as president, called Headstand a spinoff from Allison. Its services include creative campaign development and execution, brand identity and messaging development, content development, influencer relations, media relations, social engagement and digital programs.

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JULY 23, 2019 //     

Krispy Kreme is redesigning its stores for the first time in a decade and making its menu even more sugary

Credit: CNN

New York (CNN Business)Sugar might be falling out of favor, but it's the centerpiece of a makeover of Krispy Kreme that includes a new menu and its first store redesign in a decade.

The doughnut company, founded 82 years ago, debuted a new location Tuesday in North Carolina that showcases Krispy Kreme's new, extra-sweet menu. It features concoctions like doughnut-infused ice cream, milkshakes and a customizable toppings bar for the glazed doughnuts. READ MORE
JULY 23, 2019 //     

The Stream Podcast Episode 5: Why Pride is More Than a Month

Credit: CNN.comBy: Owen Clark

No, you don’t need to double-check your calendar. It’s July, and we are doing a podcast about Pride. The reason – while outward displays of support for Pride from brands big and small have exploded, many companies still literally and figuratively put their rainbow flags away when public sentiment shifts to other causes come July. 

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So we are extending that discussion, asking what are brands doing right when it comes to supporting LGBTQ issues? What do they need to do better? What lessons can we all learn from those within the community about how their experience is different now then at other points in the past?

To answer these questions, we turned to four colleagues who bring the unique perspectives of being both veteran marketers and members of the LGBTQ community. Their stories will touch you, and their insights will make you think differently about a complex but vitally important issue that impacts everyone.

The Stream Podcast can be downloaded via Google Play MusiciTunes, Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.

JULY 17, 2019 //     

FaceApp responds to privacy concerns

Credit: TechCrunch

FaceApp,  the AI-powered selfie-editing app that’s been having another viral moment of late, has now responded to a privacy controversy that we covered earlier here.

We’ve pasted the company’s full statement at the bottom of this post.

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JULY 17, 2019 //     

PAPA JOHN'S MADE A MINI PIZZA FOR BEES

Credit: AdAge

Honey bee populations have been declining dramatically worldwide, and in the U.K., two species have already gone extinct locally. To draw attention to the plight of the pollinators, Papa John’s U.K. has made what it calls the world’s first pizza for bees.

So, do bees even like pizza?

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JULY 16, 2019 //     

Netflix removes depiction of suicide in ’13 Reasons Why’ season one finale

Credit: TechCrunch

Netflix  has modified an episode of the controversial series ’13 Reasons Why’ two years after its original airing, citing sensitivity to the ‘ongoing debate’ that’s been occurring regarding the show’s depiction and characterization of teen suicide. In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, the streaming explained why it removed a scene that depicted the suicide of main character Hannah (played by Katherine Langford) which lasted nearly three minutes, opting instead to have this take place entirely off-camera in the updated edit.

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JULY 16, 2019 //     

TikTok relies on positivity, AI to create a ‘happier place’ for users;

Credit: PRWeek

If you take away anything from this story, let it be this: TikTok is not a music app geared toward teens.

The app’s head of global marketing, Stefan Heinrich Henriquez, says his biggest comms challenge is making sure people understand that. 

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JULY 12, 2019 //     

Content Is NOT the Same as Content Marketing

An e-book, a webinar, and a white paper are not content marketing. Ads are not content marketing. Social media posts are not content marketing. Marketing with content is not the same thing as content marketing.

But what is the difference between content and content marketing? The answer is the publisher-like destination and the regular frequency of quality content that you use to attract and build an audience. You don’t own the audience on social platforms. And one e-book is not consistent enough to build the trust that audiences today are expecting.

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JULY 11, 2019 //     

TikTok bats for Wimbledon with content partnership

Credit: The Drum

Short form video platform TikTok is playing doubles with The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) by producing author content for a younger generation of future tennis fans.

After AELTC launched the app on the eve of the Wimbledon Championships, creators on the platform have been encouraged to put their spin on Wimbledon throughout the tournament, through a platform-wide hashtag #JoinTheStory, to tie in with Wimbledon's broader marketing campaign.

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JULY 10, 2019 //     

KFC Just Launched a Bucket Hat That, If You Want, Still Doubles as a Chicken Bucket

Photo Credit: Arthur Couvat for KFC Russia

Have you ever looked at an empty, grease-saturated bucket of KFC fried chicken and thought, “Damn I wish I could wear that”? Dream no more, you sartorial visionary and/or Buckethead superfan, because KFC has finally pulled the trigger on an official bucket hat—albeit only in Russia, for now.

Created by agency Wieden + Kennedy Amsterdam for KFC Russia, the bucket hat was designed in partnership with St. Petersburg-based streetwear brand Mam Cupy. They’re currently selling for 1,800 rubles, which is about $30 U.S.

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JULY 9, 2019 //     

Burger King is now selling $1 tacos nationwide. Here's why

Credit: CNN

New York (CNN Business)Burger King is trying to get customers' attention with something a little different: Tacos.

The burger chain started selling crunchy tacos on Tuesday. They cost $1 in most places, but are more expensive in Alaska and Hawaii, and will only be available for a limited time. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // JULY 9, 2019 //     

Impossible Foods' CCO on making meatless meat burgers mainstream

Credit: PRWeek

Rachel Konrad joined Impossible Foods in 2016, the same year the Impossible Burger was born. At that point, the burger was only available at one restaurant: Momofuku Nishi in New York. 

"When I first started, we were at 100 employees," says Konrad, Impossible Foods’ chief communications officer. 

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JULY 8, 2019 //     

How a Bunch of Urban Hipsters Saved Pabst Blue Ribbon

Credit: Drew Angerer — Getty ImagesIf you’re the sort who suffers for days from old commercial jingles that get stuck in your head, then by all means avoid searching YouTube for the Pabst Blue Ribbon weightlifter spot. Its doubtful premise—that a champion athlete can win first prize, but really just wants a brewski—climaxes in song: “I’ve got a taste for livin’ / I’m bringin’ home the Ribbon.” But if you can withstand the jingle, the spot is worth a look. Its polyester shirts, shag haircuts and corner-tavern setting are a reminder that, not so long ago, Pabst was a working man’s beer. READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // JULY 8, 2019 //     

Podcast: The Evolution of Influencer Marketing with Cathy Planchard

Credit: Holmes ReportThe rise of influencer marketing has sparked debate around how to measure the impact of these campaigns and the new rules of engagement — and how those differ from traditional media. Cathy Planchard, global president of Allison+Partners' All Told Division, joins the Echo Chamber to discuss a recent report the agency published, Unleashing Influencer Marketing and Realizing Its Full Potential, that shows that marketers aren't fully optimizing the potential of influencer marketing. During the conversation, we also reference an Influencer Marketing salon that Allison + Partners hosted with the Holmes Report earlier this year at the Innovation Summit — North America.  READ MORE
JULY 2, 2019 //     

This DTC Brand Is Offering an Influencer University to Give a Crash Course on Navigating Brands

Credit: Adweek

In an industry rife with false advertising, loose FTC guidelines and influencers peddling products that maybe even they don’t believe in, Seed, a direct-to-consumer probiotics brand, wants to change how influencers work with companies.

Seed rolled out its affiliate program, Seed University, on June 25. The idea behind Seed University, which exists solely on Instagram, is to revamp how influencers become involved with brands. Instead of the usual experience in which a brand tells an influencer what to say and why, without explaining the science or necessity about the product, Seed wants its ambassadors to know everything about the product—and make it a mandatory process (otherwise the influencers aren’t allowed to sell products and get commission).

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JULY 1, 2019 //     

‘Focusing on pain points’: LinkedIn adds more ad-targeting options

LinkedIn’s ad targeting is getting much more sophisticated.

LinkedIn is planning to introduce the ability for advertisers to retarget LinkedIn users who engage with their LinkedIn ads, according to a marketer with direct knowledge of the matter. Currently, LinkedIn advertisers can only see clicks that come from certain audience groups such as from a particular company. Retargeting to individuals is available on other platforms like Facebook and lets advertisers further personalize ads. The feature is expected to come out in 2020, according to the source. Later this year, LinkedIn also will add more narrowed geography-based targeting for city, state and countries.

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JULY 1, 2019 //     

TV watchers are facing a 'paradox of choice', Nielsen finds

Credit: The Drum

US adults spend more than 11 hours of the day connected with media, with five hours and 46 minutes of that time spent watching television-like content – an 11-minute drop in TV consumption compared to the same time last year.

The figures were published in Nielsen's Total Audience Report for Q1 2019, which attributed the drop to the lack of special TV happenings, such as the Winter Olympics, which didn’t air this year.

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JUNE 27, 2019 //     

E3: Three gaming trends to watch

By: Cat Forgione

Video games are an increasingly important part of American culture and entertainment. According to our client, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the video game industry is valued at more than $43.4 billion and includes more than 166 million adults who play games. While marketers should aim to reach the video gaming audience, it’s a community that demands authenticity, which requires brands to spend time in the space to understand the culture and gain credibility.

Last week, I attended E3 in Los Angeles, where 66,100 people came together to discuss what is new in the video game industry. As a first-time attendee, I found the pure passion and breadth of the gaming audience electric and the evolution of opportunities for brands was on full display.

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Hosted by ESA, the event packs the Los Angeles Convention Center with video game developers and designers, hardware creators, influencers and fans anxiously awaiting announcements about the latest games and products showcased in colorful booths and at highly-anticipated press conferences.

From the 25th annual E3, here are a few trends brands should keep an eye on:

Esports will be video gaming’s greatest opportunity

Esports operates similar to traditional sports with tournaments played by teams comprised of players with top skill. Tournaments are livestreamed from arenas with commentary from respected gaming personalities. Similar to traditional sports, esports gives audiences the ability to learn how to maximize their play, meet people with similar interests and cheer for those who play the same games as them at a professional level.

Estimates from Newzoo project the global esports market will exceed $1.4 billion by 2020. Though esports is more advanced in countries outside of the United States, E3 featured its own Esports Zone in partnerships with Subnation to spotlight esports through game play, expert talks and gaming cultural experiences.

With the growth of esports, the opportunity for companies to reach the video game audience will grow through tournament and team sponsorships, in-stream advertising and event partnerships. For example, as of this year, Miller Lite is the exclusive alcohol brand for Complexity Gaming, the esports sibling of the Dallas Cowboys.

Streamers are still the trusted source

Streamers play video games through a live, dual video recording – one video shows the gamer’s reactions and one video shows gameplay. These players have a high number of followers on social media and streaming platforms, such as Mixer and Twitch. Unlike other forms of entertainment, the audience is a key part of the experience because viewers can communicate with streamers through chat functions. Streamers respond via spoken word while simultaneously gaming. As a result of this relationship, streamers are viewed a trusted resource for product recommendations to those in the gaming community. 

At the “Borderlands” booth at E3, many streamers were seen on gaming PCs in glass rooms playing the game, discussing their experiences at the show and interviewing special guests for thousands of their followers. Many of these streaming personalities have sponsors, and their content changes continuously. The ESA Foundation and Red Bull partnered to drive the conversation about how to create compelling content with a panel featuring creators, including Mari Takahashi of Smosh Games, Sonja “OMGitsfirefoxx” Mel, Leah Ashe and Dana Pirkle of 3Blackdot.

Video game companies pay and provide products to influential streamers to play new releases, while technology hardware companies do the same in exchange for a mention in the gear section of an influencers’ streaming homepage. Additionally, other non-endemic brands, especially food and beverage brands, have partnered with streamers for product promotion, such as UberEats and Hershey's.

Mobile video gaming continues steady growth

With today’s demand for entertainment at our finger tips, consumers use smart phones for gameplay. According to eMarketer, mobile gamers make up nearly 89% of digital gamers and span all ages. Phone makers, including Asus and Razer, another A+P client, identified this trend and developed phones with high-resolution screens and fast response times for superior mobile gameplay.

Though E3 is known for console and PC game announcements, there were a few mobile game announcements, such as “Commander Keen” and “Tom Clancy’s Elite Squad.” Simultaneously, the conversation around 5G elevating mobile gaming continued with Verizon exhibiting at E3.

The development of mobile games creates a new opportunity for in-game advertisements. These advertisements should be short in length, in the same picture format as the game and convey the message without audio.

The current evolution of esports, technology and gaming on the go provide a great opportunity for marketers. Overall, the large gaming audience seeks authenticity from brands, so consider partnering with esports athletes, streamers and other brands that are trusted resources and good storytellers. By continuously investing in and understanding the culture of this target audience, your brand can also be a trusted resource.

 Cat Forgione is an account manager in Allison+Partners’ DC office.

JUNE 26, 2019 //     

Communicating with the LGBTQ+ community in the digital age

By: Gina Mossey

As part of our agency’s celebrations for Pride Month, we hosted a panel event in the London office in collaboration with Out in Tech, a global not-for-profit for the LGBTQ+ community in tech, to discuss how the internet has changed the way brands can and should communicate with the LGBTQ+ community.

Chaired in style by our very own Account Director Andrew Rogers, guest speakers who imparted their words of wisdom included:

  • Polly Shute, Director of Partnerships at Parallel Lifestyle
  • Alex Wood, Europe Editor at Forbes
  • Matt Risley, Digital Director at MTV UK
  • Saski, Pride Host and LGBTQ+ Educator

A thought-provoking and lively conversation left us all with a lot of food for thought. Here are the key takeaways.

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Start with your staff

We’ve seen a lot of companies support Pride because other companies do – we all know brands are fast followers. But the most effective brands support LGBTQ+ communities year-round and get input and feedback from their employees to make sure they get it right.

Consistent communication with employees is the crucial piece of the puzzle between brands getting it right or wrong. The more they can be involved in the process, the better-informed senior teams will be. This will help you avoid falling into the pink washing trap, and instead show your company really listens to the challenges faced by real people.

LGBTQ+ is more than just one category

This umbrella community contains many subgroups, and brands can ignore this at their peril. Each subgroup needs to be marketed to in a different way, as each have their own pain points about their personal, historical and cultural experiences. Language is a key component here, as a positive term for one subgroup can be quite the opposite for another. However, empathy, consideration and kindness will speak across the community. Within any content, we need to make sure everyone is represented.

Getting the language right again brings us back to the workplace. For society to get used to modern usage, we need more training on what is positive and negative to whom. For example, “queer” is something of a reclaimed term for younger people, while older generations can find it offensive. The more educated society becomes on this, the more intelligent our ways of using these terms socially will be.

Digital targeting for LGBTQ+ groups is still in its infancy

Building on the discussion around language, the group showed digital targeting for the community isn’t as sophisticated as it needs to be. Differences in connotations between different parts of the LGBTQ+ community means positive and negative keywords are tough to define and is a bigger conversation for the global tech community to have.

The panel also advised brands to beware of “The City Bubble.” LGBTQ+ initiatives and messaging are more advanced in major cities. But brands looking to truly get their comms strategies right need to make sure those who live in less urban areas are also represented.

They also highlighted the struggle with internet users known as “lurkers.” These people view and consume content, but they do not comment or share, making it hard to ensure their views are taken into account. We need to make sure we reach and engage the people who don’t feel they have a voice. Putting efforts into physical focus groups and research will help brands navigate this.

Be wary of only using technology to communicate

The group agreed the explosion in digital platforms has been positive in terms of visibility for LGBTQ+ issues. But it’s important it complements, and does not replace, face-to-face interaction with the community. One-to-one level comms are important for any strategy.

Brands can tap into this by keeping events and meet-ups a key part of their strategy, such as hosting talks from key influencers in their sectors who have links to the LGBTQ+ community, putting emphasis on current topics and issues that have relevance to the subgroups.

Making mistakes is part of the journey

A key point the panel wanted brands to take away from the event is that it isn’t the end of the road if you make a mistake. It’s likely brands will get it wrong sometimes, and they shouldn’t take it personally. They advised that rather than pulling out all the stops to defend yourselves, listen to the community and put yourself in their shoes. Taking a step back and listening to the voices that matter will help you work out where to go from there.

The event’s open and honest discussion around these issues, thanks to our fantastic panel and the questions from our brilliant audience, is a perfect example of the collaborative conversations that need to happen to drive change on a bigger scale for the LGBTQ+ community. Brands that keep this at the core of their activity will be the ones that truly lead the way.

Gina Mossey is an account director in Allison+Partners London office.

JUNE 25, 2019 //     

Just 11% of Cannes Lions trophies went to agencies with an equal gender split

Credit: The Drum

Close to 31,000 Cannes Lions entries across 89 countries were submitted for 2019, but of the 1000-plus winners just over 11% came from agencies that had an equal gender split at department and board-level.

According to Les Lionnes (The Lionesses) – a French non-profit group created by and made up of 300 women working in advertising – just under 90% of the winning work submitted from across 89 countries was created by agencies that were chiefly staffed and led by men.

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JUNE 25, 2019 //     

Influencer Marketing Lessons from BlogHer Food 2019

Credit: BlogHer.comBy: Lucy Arnold

Influencer marketing is maturing, and this was certainly felt at the BlogHer conference last month where many key learnings were shared that can help influencers and marketers alike ensure they are optimizing their partnerships.

In May, the BlogHer community of female entrepreneurs, content creators and influencers brought 500 people together for the day in Brooklyn to hear from experts and discuss sustainability, influencer-driven food trends, engaging food content and the #MeToo movement in the food industry. Panels and keynotes included Bethenny Frankel, Ali Maffucci and Rayna Greenberg, among other notables. Here are some of the top influencer tips from the event:

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Influencers are more savvy than ever

Many of the top-tier food influencers shared that they’re aware of their own metrics, conversion rates and audience demographics. They aren’t just blindly posting content with no understanding of how it may perform, and they can see which content is the most successful against benchmarks. They take this into consideration when discussing partnerships with brands. These influencers think brands should ask for this information in the negotiation phases because it shows they’re committed to working with the right influencer partners. On the flip side, it has made these influencers also more aware of what they’re worth and they’re going to ask for it.

Use your influencer partner’s audience

Influencers mentioned more than once Instagram is the platform they spend most of their time on. And they work with their brand partners in some interesting ways based on Instagram’s features. On Instagram Stories, users can poll their audience, quiz them and encourage them to donate to a nonprofit. One influencer mentioned she has used these capabilities to help define what kind of content she creates in her sponsorships. For example, she’ll poll her audience about which recipe they want to see and then work on the one more likely to have successful engagement metrics. Or she quizzes her audience to see how much they know (or don’t know) about a particular product, which can help her draft copy that raises awareness about key product messages. For brands, it’s a great way to get some inside info and help drive the influencer relationship to maximize returns.

Long-term partnerships and licensing

We keep hearing it from our influencer friendlies across verticals, but influencers reiterated at BlogHer – they want to work with brands in long-term partnerships. They are less interested in one-and-done posts because it devalues their audience’s trust and feels less authentic than working with a brand they love over a long period of time. Finally, a quick watch-out for brands: influencers want to know if brands will use their content. They are content creators and if their imagery ends up in the brand’s ads or website, they want to know about that in the negotiations. Using their content without permission outside of what was agreed upon isn’t best practice, and the creators should be additionally compensated for these uses.

Lucy Arnold is a Vice President of Digital focused on influencer marketing and social media strategy.

AGENCY NEWS // JUNE 24, 2019 //     

On the Move: Hawthorne Hires David Nassar; Definition 6 Recruits Dani Newman; Allison +Partners Ups Tom Smith

Credit: O'Dwyer's

Allison+Partners has promoted Tom Smith to president, corporate, North America, a newly created position. Smith previously served as managing director at the firm. In 2018, he was named a partner and was appointed to Allison+Partners’ North American Management Board, which oversees the growth and operations of the firm’s clients in the region. Before coming to Allison+Partners, Smith was an executive vice president in Ogilvy PR’s New York corporate practice. He has also served as a vice president in the corporate communications group at Fleishman Hillard, and held earlier roles at GCI Group and Makovsky + Company.

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AGENCY NEWS // JUNE 24, 2019 //     

Allison+Partners' Tom Smith Named President of North American Corporate

Credit: Holmes ReportNEW YORK — Allison+Partners has upped Tom Smith to president of the agency’s North American corporate practice.

In the newly created position, Smith is charged with furthering the expansion of the practice serving the agency's largest market.  READ MORE
AGENCY NEWS // JUNE 24, 2019 //     

Allison+Partners ups Tom Smith to president of NA corporate practice

Credit: PRWeek

NEW YORK: Allison+Partners has promoted Tom Smith to president of its North America corporate practice, a newly created role.

Most recently, Smith was MD of corporate in North America. He officially started in his current role in May and reports to Matthew Della Croce, global president of Europe and corporate.

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AGENCY NEWS // JUNE 23, 2019 //     

Level with me: Eric Paslay podcast gives a voice to people with diabetes

Credit: TDTNews

Eric Paslay, country singer and songwriter hailing from Temple, recently launched a five-episode podcast aiming to give a voice to people across the country living with Type 1 diabetes.

Each episode of “Level with Me” includes a different interview facilitated by Paslay. As someone living with T1D, he peeks into the lives of others battling the disease and fosters an open an honest discussion of how the chronic illness impacts their lives and relationships. The first episode was released in mid-May, and the fifth and final episode of the season was released last week.

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