Marketing to Humans

Controversy was sparked last year when Target went gender neutral with some of its products; with it came an important conversation amongst brands about the potential pitfalls of playing into gender stereotypes.

Many consider gender to exist on a spectrum rather than a male-female binary, causing brands to realize that consumers are more complex than gender stereotypes might suggest. The result: brands that are more inclusive of all gender identities.

At Cercone Brown, we’re calling this a “Marketing to Humans” revolution.


THINX, a brand that sells underwear specifically for a person’s menstrual cycle, is challenging gender norms with its “People with Periods” campaign. The ad features a transgender man, suggesting that females aren’t the only ones who would benefit from their products.





Many high-end fashion lines strut androgynous – gender-neutral – clothing on the runway, however, ZARA is one of the first clothing brands to make this look mainstream with their “Ungendered” collection.






Makeup isn’t just for ladies anymore. Covergirl has introduced 17-year-old social media darling James Charles as their first ever CoverBOY.

Meet James Here






Veritas Genetics

We at Cercone Brown are joining this movement to remove gender stereotypes from marketing, particularly through our work with Veritas Genetics – a whole genome sequencing startup that also markets tests for breast, ovarian, and other cancers by testing for BRCA mutation.



A mutation on the BRCA chromosome can increase the risk for breast cancer in both men and women. Among our many objectives is to build awareness that both women and men are at risk for breast cancer.




There is still a long way to go until marketing is truly intersectional and representative of all identities, but these brands are helping lead the march towards progress.

The Art of Streaming Could Be Music to Advertisers’ Ears

The advertising world figured out long ago that consumers are hungry for media, and with that insatiable demand comes expectation for instant gratification. People want their media yesterday, especially music.


Though music streaming platforms have spiked in popularity, they remain an untapped market for advertisers … aside from the usual digital ads.

Users of the free options are familiar (and maybe annoyed) with advertisements interrupting their favorite tunes. The platforms have provided ways around that, and many users think paying a small monthly fee is worth it to not have to listen to ads.


It’s time to get more creative when it comes to targeting audio audiences.

Luckily, there is no shortage of users still choosing their free, ad-filled options. Between Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music or Amazon Unlimited, there are a plethora of platforms for consumers to choose from and for advertisers to pitch their products. Currently, 45 million people use the free Spotify service monthly.


Today, digital audio ads are more popular than ads on AM/FM, which makes it the perfect platform to reach audiences across multiple devices­!

Companies like Coca-Cola offered listeners 30 minutes of ad-free music if they watch their video.

Reebok created their own Spotify playlist called “Reebok FitList” which marketed their brand without many consumers even being aware.


Following Coca-Cola and Reebok’s lead can be beneficial for a wide range of industries, with the use of incentives and discreet placement.

Targeting consumers by interrupting their music streaming is not the way to capture hearts for your brand. Don’t be afraid get creative with how you tap into the audio audience!

Video Killed more than the Radio Star

Video progression

The conversation between consumers and advertisers is constantly changing. There has been a clear transition from “traditional” media towards social media advertising and it’s not difficult to notice the surge of this movement when scrolling through your social feeds.

The Trend in Digital Video

Dynamic visuals and videos break through the constant clutter in your newsfeed and the creative use of short video advertising is proven to grab your attention. In fact, Business Insider reported that in 2016 digital video will reach 5 billion in ad revenue. Videos are sparking people’s interest, and marketers are taking advantage of it.

An example of a digital advertisement found on Facebook.

Facebook understands the value of video advertising and is fully on board. Infiltrating your newsfeed with muted video advertisements, the challenge of silent advertisements is now top of mind.

As quoted in the New York Times “For a lot of our clients, Facebook is a very important platform, so thinking about how it’s going to play out there without sound is coming into the discussion earlier and earlier in the process,” said Neel Williams, a creative director at the Martin Agency, which has also repurposed TV Chips Ahoy commercials for Facebook.

An infographic explaining the dramatic increase in social media advertising. 

It’s almost like taking a step back in time. Instead of having the trendiest indie song playing in the background to get your attention, it is now the quick flashy graphics with captions.

According to emarketer, YouTube, Google and Facebook digital video content is receiving a higher rate of viewership along with clicks per minute or CPM than its competitors.

A graph displaying what brands lead in digital video advertising.

Facebook accumulating the most clicks per minute.













The surge in social media advertising is increasing at alarming rate and is estimated to increase 194% and possibly reach 15 Billion dollars by 2018.


What Does This Mean For Advertising Agencies?

Well the good news is this has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities for digital creative work.

Each platform will need it’s own unique strategy. The viewer expectations when watching a YouTube video is that there will be sound, emphasizing the importance of music and dialogue. Similarly, when a viewer is scrolling through, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram strong visual imagery will be their main focus and sound becomes second priority.

This also raises an interesting question when it comes to TV advertising. Most of us don’t enjoy sitting through a 30-sec ad spot on TV and therefore it is likely we wouldn’t want to while at our computers either, especially when it’s when we’re scrolling through our favorite social channel. Keeping the consumer in mind while creating engaging, digital video content is key.

“The most important factor is where the consumer’s focus is,” Mr. Williams, of the Martin Agency, said. “You can have the most epic TV spot that is a visual feast, packed with the best, most well-written voice-over, read by the most famous person, but if you’re not paying attention to it, then it doesn’t matter.” — The New York Times.

The rapidly changing advertising world is both exciting and daunting. Grabbing a viewer’s attention has never been more desired in the oversaturated advertising world. Ad agencies must get smarter when it comes to creative, engaging video content if they want to win over their target audience online.


People Remember Experiences, Not Products

For brands that want to have a lasting impact, one thing is important to know: people remember experiences, not products.

Why it’s Important


Experiential marketing and branded entertainment immerse consumers into brands, forming positive associations and sometimes inspiring them to become brand influencers.

Through events and other branded entertainment, you give the consumer a tangible experience so that they will remember your brand. When they go to make a purchase in your category, they’ll remember that experience.

How you can implement it

The types of events and branded entertainment you host can range from strictly informative to wildly creative. Many brands set up booths at trade shows and other events to give consumers a more personal, in depth interaction with their brand.

image courtesy of Krista K. Catian, NAVFAC Pacific Public Affairs

image courtesy of Krista K. Catian, NAVFAC Pacific Public Affairs

photo courtesy of Nick Gray

photo courtesy of Nick Gray

Some brands try to reimagine the way consumers engage with their product by putting on interactive experiences.

Merrell’s virtual hike

It’s also important to leverage social media. Posting builds buzz and creates an online community to share the great experiences they had with your brand.





Follow Our Lead

We at CerconeBrown know just how important experiential marketing and branded entertainment can be. That’s why we frequently help hold pop up shops, mobile boutiques, and special events for our clients. Additionally, we host our House Programs multiple times a year, where influencers get mini vacations at locations across the country, allowing them the opportunity to engage with our clients’ products. We know that they may forget an ad, but they’re sure to remember an experience.

Group stroll through the plantation

A Dose of Southern Charm with CBC’s Charleston Experience

Sprawling southern plantations, historic cobblestone streets, a sun-soaked harbor-side – packed with southern charm, Charleston, South Carolina is nothing short of the perfect spot for an end-of-the-summer getaway.

Editors tour Charleston South Carolina where they tested new products

This is exactly the mini-vacation that 10 top tier editors enjoyed during the debut of Cercone Brown Company’s (CBC) Charleston Experience from September 15th-18th.


Staying in a house on Isle of Palms, just northeast of the city on the water, the participants spent the weekend indulging in relaxation at the beach, local fare from the city’s best restaurants, and unforgettable tourist attractions.


Brands like GMC, Kendall-Jackson, and Sanuk Footwear teamed up with hot spots in Charleston, including Middleton Place Restaurant, The Cocktail Club and Wild Dunes Resort and Husk for a series of experiences.


The Charleston Experience is part of the larger CBC House Programs – a 10-year-old mission developed by CBC. The goal is to provide editors from various national publications with the opportunity to experience brands and products as they’re meant to be enjoyed in memorable and unique settings.

Editors biking the beach in the Isle of Palms

While in Charleston, participants indulged in wine and cheese with Wyndham Rentals, true Southern hospitality from Explore Charleston, a beach day at Wild Dunes, a wine tasting with Jackson Family Wines and more.

During a tour of Middleton Place and Downtown Charleston, editors laced up their Sanuk shoes and later enjoyed a chilled glass of Kendall Jackson at the Saturday night Wine Pairing Dinner.

Kendall Jackson Wine for Jackson Family Dinner

We can’t believe another fun-filled CBC House program event has come and gone! Lucky for us, there will be many more to come. Don’t forget to use #CBCCharlestonExperience to check out pictures from the weekend.

The Age of Convenience

As consumers continue to expect things at the click of a button, certain brands are capitalizing on the advantages of this and positioning themselves at the forefront of this trend.

Picture Courtesy of Pexels

Picture Courtesy of Pexels

Over the past few years, several services have emerged that allow consumers to get everything they need with one click – from groceries to wine to razors, anything can now be delivered to your doorstep.

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Beloved services like Postmates and GrubHub allow you to order food and other items without any human contact, while services like Trunk Club, Graze, and BirchBox go one step further and eliminate the need of you having to make any decision at all. Upon signing up for the service, the buyer takes a preferences test and then receives customized monthly deliveries of clothes, snacks, makeup, etc.

Brands like these have ushered in an Age of Convenience, where consumers get none of the hassle, but all of the gratification. According to a Shutl survey, 60% of millennials expect more from delivery services than they did two years ago.

Convenience is no longer a perk – it’s a necessity. And as more of these delivery services pop up, consumers’ expectations for their shopping experiences change and force companies to refresh their brand positioning accordingly.

This consumption transformation is just getting started. While only 8% of those surveyed by CivicScience use a convenience service now, 24% are planning on subscribing in the next year. The popularity of these services suggests that the future of shopping is all about having someone else do it for you.

Experiential marketing so good, it’s scary: Grandin Road Halloween pops up and spooks in New York City


It’s the time of year again when pool noodles and sunscreen are replaced with Halloween decorations and pumpkin-flavored everything.


Adding to the excitement and popping up right up in the heart of NYC is Grandin Road’s Halloween shop – a seasonal store within a store located in Macy’s Herald Square. This experiential retail shop is 1,400 square feet and features over 250 magical, mysterious, and enchantingly elegant products from the brand.

Shoppers can walk through each of the festively frightening rooms. Care to join Mr. and Mrs. Skeleton for dinner? How about an evening walk with your not-so-alive dog?



The pop-up Halloween experience at Macy’s Herald Square includes two fashion windows that showcase the dramatic décor to passersby and continues inside of the store with four sophisticated vignettes: “Frightfully Fun,” “Bewitching,” “Halloween Glam” and “Macabre and Mystical”.



Whether you are transforming your home into a haunted haven or hoping to add a few signature scare pieces to your living room, Grandin Road’s Halloween experiential marketing shop is sure to satisfy.


Enter if you dare…

Companies expand the limits of “traditional” advertising with their models

The days when only stereotypical models starred in ad campaigns are long gone. Instead, many companies like Dove, Honey Maid, and Nike are now using people who redefine classic beauty and family archetypes.

Though each ad campaign is as different as it is powerful, one thing remains true in all: no one looks the same.

Dove breaks the beauty mold

Dove has been one of the trailblazers in the creation of ad campaigns that focus on real people with real bodies. Since 2006, they exposed the ways women are inaccurately portrayed through mediums like Photoshop.

The mission of this campaign was to tell women that you don’t have to be a size two model to use their products – something no one hates to hear.

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Honey Maid redefines traditional family

In 2014, Honey Maid released its “Wholesome” ad campaign, which featured interracial, gay and other non-stereotypical families enjoying their snacks.


And like with anything new, there hasn’t been widespread acceptance. Some have shared their negative opinions on social media. But, Honey Maid made lemons out of lemonade with this genius way of turning hate into love.

Nike proves gender is objective

Nike featured the USA’s first transgender Olympic athlete in their recent ad campaign. Chris Moiser, who is a duathlete, represents the first transgender athlete to ever be in a campaign of this magnitude.

Do we sense a change in the advertising tide? While we still have a long way to go to evenly represent people from all walks of life, it’s refreshing to see brands cultivate a new image and try to redefine the norm.

Creative Marketing Convinces Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

Moms everywhere struggle to get healthy food into their kids. We cook Jessica Seinfeld’s cakes baked with smash cauliflower and create clever names for celery/peanut butter/raisins combos. We make our fruit look like holiday stars and smily faces. Parents have looked to marketing to help them get their children to eat healthy food for as long as kids have refused to eat it. And, it works.

Creative Name Markets Celery

In a new study published by Pediatrics, Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN Center) researchers demonstrate the influence that marketing can have on kids’ food choices. In this six-week study, researchers decorated salad bars with vinyl banners depicting fun fruit and vegetable characters in 10 elementary schools across the country. In addition to the banner, researchers also placed a TV screen within close proximity to the salad bar and played education videos of the same animated fruit and vegetables while the children chose their meals.   The study found that in schools where the banner was in place, 90% more children chose to eat salad than without the banner in place. In schools where the banner was in place and the video was running simultaneously, 239% more children chose to eat salad.


These results clearly demonstrate the powerful influence that marketing can have on kids’ food choices. So while big conglomerates are busy wooing our children with Tony the Tiger and the Trix Rabbit, care givers and educators have ammunition to fight back with their own benevolent broccoli and playful peppers, evening the playing field of how we shape our children’s perception of good, and fun, food.

To learn more about this study, see Cornell Food and Brand Lab’s video, An Upside of Marketing Food to Children.