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All advertisers strive to produce great work that goes beyond selling and becomes viral entertainment that consumers talk about for weeks. But then what?

Many have gotten into the habit of cranking out one campaign after the other, without too much diversity in-between. But in the pursuit of staying fresh, they lose the longevity of their brand identity.

This is where Transmedia storytelling comes into play.

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source: Wise Geek http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-mass-production.htm#

Transmedia storytelling is simply defined as “telling a story across multiple media” and thrives off audience engagement. Different media forms work together to create a larger, more engaging story that immerses the consumer in the brand.

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Traditionally, media franchises (like Harry Potter and Star Wars) have brought this technique to life by building off the original content with related games, toys, theme parks, etc. This results in a natural build of brand awareness and loyalty.

Progressive

Perhaps the best example of a brand using transmedia storytelling happened in 2008 when car insurance company Progressive brought out Flo, the quirky saleswoman who has since become the face of the brand.

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Over the last nine years, Flo has appeared in over 100 commercials, has her own bobble head, a Halloween costume, and even has a role in the racing video game ModNation Racers.

Flo’s ability to transcend traditional marketing mediums has helped Progressive appeal to the elusive younger audience.

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Melbourne Metro

PSAs have a bad reputation. So when Melbourne Metro had to release a PSA for train safety, they seized the opportunity to break the monotony usually associated with PSAs by using transmedia storytelling.

The campaign started with a catchy jingle but has since expanded to an iPhone game, plush toys, and figurines.

 

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When executed well, transmedia storytelling can extend the lifetime of a campaign and strengthen brand identity.

Consumers are inundated with advertisements. While the exact number is impossible to pinpoint, the head of Kantar Futures, Dr. J Walker Smith, and other sources have cited that a person sees up to 5,000 marketing messages a day.

What does this mean for advertisers? Traditional marketing techniques no longer cut it. Consumers tune out the “seen it before” promotions as white noise. In order to capture the interest of consumers, marketing needs to anticipate their expectations and then disrupt them.

In Digital

Using Ad blockers has become common practice. Netflix recognized this trend long ago and found a clever way to use it to promote their original show, Black Mirror. Advertising via a technology designed to eliminate advertisements was a brilliant move. The campaign also fit with the show’s eerie tone, which resonated well with viewers.

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In Print

Print has always been a fairly straightforward medium. That’s why we especially loved to see Chambord blow our expectations out of the water with their print series, “Because No Reason. The blunt tone of the campaign caught consumers’ attention, and the nod to “impulse purchases” appealed to shoppers. Brownie points, because the campaign also went viral on digital.

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In Broadcast

Everyone skips YouTube pre-rolls; it’s just a fact. Instead of trying to manipulate consumers into watching a longer ad, Geico recognized the irritation and adjusted their ads to fit within five seconds. Their humorous “unskippable ads” understood that consumers just want to get to their content quick and dirty. The ads were so popular that consumers even went so far as to seek out the uncut versions.

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Product Packaging

We at Cercone Brown know you have to get creative if you want to grab consumers’ attention. That’s why we were all over it when our client, Backyard Farms, asked us to rethink how they package their delicious tomatoes. We conducted focus groups in Maine and Boston to hear what their customers had to say about the brand. This consumer feedback served as inspiration for the package design below – a signature branding of Backyard Farms that customers have loved ever since!

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So what do all of these brands have in common? They embraced the modern way consumers interact with advertising spaces rather than trying to force a cookie-cutter message. The result: content that consumers actually seek out.

Over the past decade, we have seen tremendous strides in advertising diversity, from gender to religious beliefs. However, let’s not pat ourselves on the back just yet. There is still so much room for more progress in attaining equal representation of these marginalized groups.

White male dominated agencies, like in the show Mad Men, still exist today. Photo Credit: from Justina Mintz/AMC

White male dominated agencies, like in the show Mad Men, still exist today.
Photo Credit: from Justina Mintz/AMC

Why Agencies Benefit from Increasing Diversity in their Workforce

At its most rudimentary level, advertising and marketing campaigns are meant to capture the attention of audiences. We do that by creating content that is relatable and strikes a universal chord. For minority demographics, we believe the best way to create content that resonates is to let them tell the story.

Agencies without a diverse staff are more limited in their understanding of their various target audiences.

With so many talented individuals from diverse backgrounds, why should we make our jobs harder by excluding their voices? We should embrace a breadth of perspectives as a way to stimulate industry progression and inclusivity.

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As Pepsi Co. Executive Brad Jakemen puts it, “Innovation and disruption does not come from homogenous groups of people. Quite the opposite. They come from collections of people with different life experiences coming together with a different perspective on the world. Different ages, races, sexual orientations trying to solve a problem from a different standpoint.”

Brands Pushing for Change

A few brands – including Pepsi Co., Verizon, HP, General Mills ­– have spearheaded this initiative by pressuring their agencies to hire diverse individuals. They’ve asked agencies to propose plans for how they will boost representation at all levels within their workforce.

The SMO for Verizon, Diego Scotti commented in a New York Times article that, “Marketers are expected to have a deep understanding and insight about their markets, about decision makers and about customers. We are more likely to create solutions that amaze our customers if our workforce and suppliers represent the communities we serve.”

We at CerconeBrown applaud the steps these brands are taking, but recognize there is still progress to be made. When new and unique perspectives are brought into the creative process, everyone wins.

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

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.

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ZARA

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.

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Covergirl

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

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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.

 

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

Why it’s Important

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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 https://www.flickr.com/photos/navfac/10461564004

image courtesy of Krista K. Catian, NAVFAC Pacific Public Affairs https://www.flickr.com/photos/navfac/10461564004

photo courtesy of Nick Gray https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickgray/358452789

photo courtesy of Nick Gray https://www.flickr.com/photos/nickgray/358452789

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

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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.

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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.

Your hair is a mess, you spilled coffee on your shirt, and the morning seems like an utter disaster. You’ve fallen victim to the clock and you’re not alone in your frantic run to the T. But once you are en route, you have space to take a breath, hopefully score a seat and enjoy the ride.

But, like so many city-dwellers that rely on public transportation, the commute to work can get dull. What do you do to pass the time? Chances are, you get lost in your phone for the next 45-minutes.

If you want to see technology truly captivate an audience, glance around the next time you are on public mass transit during commuting hours. You will likely see a sea of people scrolling and tapping away over their to-go coffee. Why do we care? These highly receptive times of day offer an invaluable window for any marketer to take advantage of as a way to promote their brand.

It is very rare that you will run into an individual on their commute who is not glued to their phone. This was made even more obvious when the hashtag #guywithoutaphone first started trending – a hilarious ode to the one person at a train station without a cell phone ironically surrounded by people that are attached to their devices. These pictures show that in down time, people are interested in being either productive or entertained during their daily commute. Well … except for the #guywithoutaphone.

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The national average for commuting times is about 25.4 minutes. According to a report from the U.S. Census Bureau, 10.8 million people, or 8.1% of workers, commute an hour or more to work each way ­– when you think of all the ways you can harness this time to make conversation with your social scrolling consumers, the commute might just look a little bit sweeter.

So advertisers, marketers, and everyone in between, we have some words of wisdom for you: time is money … literally. The posters and signage within trains and busses are effective but realistically, where is everyone looking? Their phones. That’s the reason why this year, US advertisers will spend $40.24 billion to reach consumers on tablets and mobile phones.

Those tedious travel times are inevitable, so why not give your commuting consumers something to think about?

There’s something to be said about a weekend getaway to America’s wine region, Sonoma County. Breathtaking countryside, endless vineyards, the finest farm-to-table cuisine, all tucked into the rolling hills of Northern California. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and unplug – or to simply indulge in amazing food and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

For 24 editors spanning a variety of lifestyle publications, this blissful vacation daydream became a reality during CBC’s Cooking Cottage experience from April 29-May 4.

The CBC Cooking Cottage is part of our House Program series and was born from the desire to provide editors and bloggers the opportunity to engage with a variety of brands in a tangible, meaningful way. Representatives from publications like Good Housekeeping, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and more attended the organized oasis and left with a weekend experience they won’t forget.

Each day featured a new set of socially-engaging activities, each hosted by a different brand. The agenda included events like a wine and cheese at Arrowood Vineyard with President Cheese, an exclusive poolside yoga class with Clif Bar, tours of two Jackson Family Wines vineyards, a Pinot and Potatoes Paint Night with Alexia, and many delicious meals in between.

The Cooking Cottage experience gave participants an enchanting taste of the rich Sonoma culture, as well as an insider’s look at highly-coveted brands like Omaha SteaksSambazonStonewall Kitchen, and Simply Organic.

But don’t just take our word for it. Scroll through the amazing photos posted by our guests on the hashtag #CBCcottage on Instagram.

Until next year, Cooking Cottage!

There’s something to be said about a weekend getaway to America’s wine region, Sonoma County. Breathtaking countryside, endless vineyards, the finest farm-to-table cuisine, all tucked into the rolling hills of Northern California. It’s the perfect spot to unwind and unplug – or to simply indulge in amazing food and a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc.

For 24 editors spanning a variety of lifestyle publications, this blissful vacation daydream became a reality during CBC’s Cooking Cottage experience from April 29-May 4.

The CBC Cooking Cottage is part of our House Program series and was born from the desire to provide editors and bloggers the opportunity to engage with a variety of brands in a tangible, meaningful way. Representatives from publications like Good Housekeeping, Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, Women’s Health, and more attended the organized oasis and left with a weekend experience they won’t forget.

Each day featured a new set of socially-engaging activities, each hosted by a different brand. The agenda included events like a wine and cheese at Arrowood Vineyard with President Cheese, an exclusive poolside yoga class with Clif Bar, tours of two Jackson Family Wines vineyards, a Pinot and Potatoes Paint Night with Alexia, and many delicious meals in between.

The Cooking Cottage experience gave participants an enchanting taste of the rich Sonoma culture, as well as an insider’s look at highly-coveted brands like Omaha Steaks, Sambazon, Stonewall Kitchen, and Simply Organic.

But don’t just take our word for it. Scroll through the amazing photos posted by our guests on the hashtag #CBCcottage on Instagram.

Until next year, Cooking Cottage!

The 2016 Super Bowl brought along its usual jaw dropping and unforgettable moments for consumer and spectators alike. But what we at CBC care about is how well those big-name Super Bowl advertisers reached their target audience. One way to monitor how well brands did in their advertising initiatives is to measure post-game mentions. For a lucky few brands, talk is still buzzing, and while most of the heavy hitters spent large sums of money to have that precious air time, some were able to grab attention for free. You might be wondering- how did they pull THAT off? It’s simple: product placement.

Product placement has been a notable advertising technique for quite some time. The obvious advantages of product placement are that your brand gets air time with respectable and trustworthy opinion leaders, allowing your brands reputation to become more credible. While most companies will pay to have their products featured in media programs, it’s not always the case. In a couple instances that are mentioned below, brands get credible airtime without spending a dime, allowing for great post-game coverage for their product of service. Here are some brands that are making viral waves post-game.

Red Lobster

One of the biggest benefactors of this advertising technique would be Red Lobster. During Beyoncé’s half time performance, she mentions the chain restaurant in her new song. Red Lobster saw a spike in activity on their social media as well as a rise in sales since the release of the song just a day prior.

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Apple

Apple was another brand that didn’t pay for air time in any facet, but was instead including in advertising by other popular brands. The iPhone 6S, Apple’s CarPlay interface, the Apple Watch, and Beats Audio were able to make cameo appearances which spiked interest in Apple products associated with these brands. The cameo appearances were in a variety of product commercials from car companies like Hyundai, phone companies like T-Mobile, and Machine Zone’s Mobile Strike campaign.

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Budweiser

Budweiser was an unexpected benefactor of product placement after Peyton Manning said he was “going to drink a lot of Budweiser” after his super bowl win. An unfortunate circumstance for Budweiser who already spent millions of dollars in advertising fees, but nonetheless a credible and substantial push for their target media.

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Overall, this kind of advertisement is a luck of the draw approach: it isn’t the most reliable, and of course unlike paid advertisement, it’s never guaranteed. But as a PR professional, always be prepared for the unexpected, and if the instance occurs, make sure you thank those who gave you a shout-out!

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[Source]

Pandora has updated its services once again, and this time, it’s to include fewer ads. The music-streaming service created a new ad format for select brands called Sponsored Listening. Available for all advertisers and Pandora’s 80 million listeners, the addition prompts people who use the streaming service to watch a short video or click on a media advertisement to unlock one hour of ad-free listening.

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Each of the video ads is at least 15 seconds, with some running up to two-and-a-half minutes long. Sponsored Listening is only available on mobile devices, which is how 80% of Pandora’s users listen to music.

These tuned-in listeners are helping make Pandora money in a big way. The new pilot advertisements boosted purchase intent by 30% and brand awareness by 12%. The Oakland, California company reported its second quarter earnings last week, bringing in $230.9 million in ad revenue, a 30% year-over-year jump.Pandora-2

 

This may be the new way of the land, as brands and advertisers continuously update formats based on the evolving media and audience expectations. Listeners may now actually enjoy radio ads with Pavlovian anticipation of the hour’s worth of ad-free music to come. Two minutes about deodorant? Fine, I’ll take it, for the sake of what it’s all about: the music.

A new feature is being added to everyone’s favorite streaming site, Netflix. While it has been one of the only TV/movie streaming websites without annoying 15-second product ads, it recently decided to integrate advertising (for movies, that is) ever-so-craftily into its experience.

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Now, when you are sifting through movies and TV shows on Netflix, there will be a ‘Trailer’ button that will lead you to a preview of whatever movie or TV show you are thinking of binge-watching. In fact, this function now enables viewers to binge on the trailers themselves.

“Netflix ‘Previews’ is like every viewer in a movie theater seeing a different series of trailers based on their personal tastes,” said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. “This unmatched, highly personalized selection of movie previews makes it even easier for Netflix members to discover movies they’ll love.” [Source]

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Is this one step closer to Netflix adding traditional advertisements to their website in the future? While they insist they will remain ad-free, Netflix, which chargers its viewers monthly subscriptions, seems like it may be making moves toward the slippery slope of advertising outside the movie-sphere. As one of the most successful online streaming websites, we suspect Netflix would have a pretty good advantage if they did decide to add third-party ads. Since the start of the Netflix phenomenon, the company has been analyzing what their viewers are interested in and using that information to suggest movies or TV shows back to them—which is, conveniently, the same type of formula that marketers use.

For now, admen will have to continue binging on their favorite shows and movies without their ads, just like the rest of us.