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Target's Bullseye and The Voice's Finalists Star in Holiday Mashup

Ad Age



Bullseye, Target’s black-and-white dog mascot, isn’t a contestant on NBC’s singing contest “The Voice,” but the marketer paid for the pup to appear in ads with the show’s eight finalists during Monday’s episode.

The four 30-second commercials show pairs of contestants singing holiday classics before Bullseye closes things out with a bark from a judge’s chair.

It’s not the first time Target has tried to catch viewers’ attention with commercials that integrate the surrounding programming. In November 2012, Target and Nieman Marcus tapped the actors, writers and even set designers from ABC’s “Revenge” to fill an episode’s breaks with ads emulating the show. Since then, brands have often turned to live programming to further combat ad-skipping, and Target has run commercials featuring live music performances during the Grammys.

Earlier this fall, the retailer ran commercials during “The Voice” in which former contestants wore Target apparel.

Target, which spent $148.3 million on measured media in the U.S. last November and December, according to Kantar Media, has said this holiday season represents a chance to further engage different demographics in its marketing, including families without children.

“We strategically chose ‘The Voice’ as a key partner because of its popularity with a wide variety of audiences,” explains Rick Gomez, chief marketing officer and executive VP at Target. Target is the only national retailer within the episode, he adds. “Our custom content will seamlessly integrate with the show’s mashup theme, providing a rich experience for viewers.”

Last year, Target’s sales in the fourth quarter slipped by 4.3 percent to $20.7 billion. Target sales increased 1.4 percent to $16.7 billion in the third quarter of this year; comparable sales, online and at stores open for at least a year, increased 0.9 percent in the quarter.

The “Voice” ads are part of Target’s “Together’s the Joy” holiday campaign by Deutsch L.A. They’re also part of the Minneapolis-based retailer’s recently announced deal with NBC Universal to be the first customer for the media conglomerate’s self-serve programmatic platform to buy ads in traditional, national TV, according to a Target spokeswoman.

GroupM’s Essence handled media duties for the new work.

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Charlotte McKinney: I'm Not Ashamed Of My Carl's Jr. Super Bowl Ad

Ad Age




Model and actress Charlotte McKinney bared (almost) all in Carl’s Jr. racy 2015 Super Bowl spot. The ad gained national attention not only for the hamburger chain, but also for McKinney, who prior to the commercial had been mostly famous for her Instagram feed.

In the spot that aired on the West Coast, McKinney promoted the chain’s all-natural burger by walking through a farmers’ market seemingly naked, covered by cleverly placed fruits and vegetables. It ends, of course, with her taking a big bite out of the burger.

The spot received plenty of backlash, with critics decrying it as sexist and offensive. At the time, Super Bowl commercials were largely catering to a male audience, with beer ads depicting women as nags and spots promising that if a man gives a woman flowers, she will return the favor with sex.

These types of tropes certainly won’t fly this year amid the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, where women are speaking out about sexual harassment and assault. And since then, Carl’s Jr. and many other marketers have toned down or abandoned objectifying women in their commercials.

Since then McKinney has appeared in the “Baywatch” movie, competed in season 20 of “Dancing With the Stars” and continues to model for brands like Guess. In an interview with Ad Age, she says being proud of your body doesn’t have to be seen as a negative, even in this tense environment. In this Q&A, McKinney speaks about living in the shadow of the Super Bowl ad and how she is moving past being seen as the “hamburger girl.” The interview has been lightly edited.

Any time you talk about risqué Super Bowl commercials, the Carl’s Jr. one rises to the top. What do you think of the spot looking back on it?

I have been asked this same question so many times now – when you are known for something like that it is all people want to talk about. I got an email about doing this interview and I thought, why don’t they just Google search the other interviews I’ve done. For a really long time any interview or questions about me was about that.

Have you tried to distance yourself from the ad?

I have been trying so hard, but that will always be there and that is part of my life and my career, but I am trying to get a different voice out there. I am not just that girl in that commercial you saw that one time….I am more than that commercial. It’s been four years since that commercial, I love that it is still being talked about, but it is something I don’t want just to be known for. I want people to know me for my modeling and getting into acting.

Knowing how much you would become synonymous with that ad, is there anything you would have done differently?

It was a huge part of my career and I am so grateful for it. There is nothing I would have done differently. I don’t come from a family who worked in the industry – that was my breakout; that was my big moment. I’m not ashamed of it.

How did you handle the criticism?

With anything you do there is going to be someone being negative, but it was nothing you wouldn’t see at a day at the beach. It wasn’t vulgar; it wasn’t hurting someone.

Is there more sensitivity now to these types of ads? Is it harder to do racier content in this environment?

Right now, with what’s going on, definitely. But you go on Instagram and everyone is half-naked. It’s just part of the culture now. My ad was not nearly as bad as other things you’d see online.

I think we are at a point in world right now, if you are comfortable in your body and you are happy with it – I say go for it. It is powerful. If I can be a voice for feeling comfortable in your own skin, it can be a form of empowerment. It needs to be done tastefully and you don’t want to overdo it, but it is important for all girls to feel comfortable in their own skin; it can be a voice to something.

What happened after the ad ran?

The attention was good and I think I took it in a positive way. I didn’t think it would be so big, but then there it was on “Good Morning America.” I think I handled it the best I could. I took that little five minutes and took it into building a career.

After that Carl’s Jr. invited me for another commercial. I did that. I signed with a talent agency, I was modeling still, doing more Guess campaigns. Now all I’m doing is really acting, going out for roles and constantly in auditions.

You recently appeared in the “Baywatch” movie. What has the transition to acting been like?

The transition has been different. I walk into a casting office and I am the hamburger girl. It is still a part of me and it has taken some time to get people to see me differently…I have been lucky to get into some rooms I normally wouldn’t be in, but it is a daily hustle trying to get people to see me differently.

What do you hope is next for your career?

Finding roles that you typically wouldn’t see me in; more indies. Most of the things I have done are pretty commercial. I am staying creative and working with my acting coach constantly so I am ready for the role when it comes.

I want people to see more of me, not just the glitz and glam…I am always getting from agents that I need to post more [to social media]. I have a hard time. I keep my personal life to myself so I am not posting everything I do. This year, my goal is to try to post not just the perfect picture of Charlotte, but show me and build more of a relationship with the people who follow me. It’s definitely tough for me, but it is something I am working on this year, to show more of the rawness.

Do you watch the Super Bowl?

The only thing I do really watch are the commercials. I like more humorous ones like Doritos. Anything too serious during the Super Bowl is kind of a buzzkill.

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The Case of the Curious Octopus: The Evolution of the Account Manager

Ad Age




Where have you gone, Dick York?  Credit: ABC Photo Archives

I used to say that the account person is an octopus, juggling many functions and departments, at the heart of the agency touching every department. But even that simple description of the role has evolved.

Here’s a trip back in time to chart out how the account manager role morphed into what it is today:

The Jack of all trades
I began my career in account management in NY agencies in the early ’80’s. By then the role of the account exec had evolved from the glad hander depicted by Darren Stephens in “Bewitched” to handling several functions: client relationships, strategy and project management. You also needed a good grasp of media, production and creative. Pretty much an advertising jack of all trades.

Identity crisis
By the ’90’s many functions were stripped away from the account job to become their own specialties. Black suited strategic planners with funky eyeglass frames from U.K. appeared on our shores.

Professional project managers with PM certification took over that role. Media became unbundled and dispatched to distant offices and competing holding companies.

But where did that leave the account person? Schmoozing clients at lunch? Letting them win on the golf course? While prevalent when I worked on the Smirnoff account a long time ago, the three martini lunch has pretty much gone the way of the dodo. And who has 5 hours for a round of golf?

A simple, but not easy job
Brendan Ryan had an excellent grasp of the role of the account person when I worked for him when he was CEO at FCB. Having risen through the account ranks himself, he said the role is simple; not easy but simple. Senior account management comprises four tasks:

1. Develop and sell great advertising that sells the hell out of clients’ products and builds their brand value over time.
2. Generate significant revenue growth for the agency.
3. Attract, motivate, develop and lead account management people.
4. Develop strong relationships with the senior management of your clients.

The account person in the eye of the storm
Fast forward 20 years, here’s what’s changed: In speaking with CEO’s at various agencies, the consensus is that account management has dramatically evolved in the last 10 years. As I mentioned in my last piece, after the 2008 recession everyone was suddenly being asked to do more with less.

Because of shrinking resources and tightening timetables, client/agency partnerships became tenuous at best. One senior agency account leader said, “Our business has become so complicated that most clients haven’t a clue about much of what we do in many channels…and moving forward places a new strain on these relationships.”

Now, because of this complexity today’s account people are called on to be conversant in client business, have a strategic POV, and be an astute student of a vast range of consumers and emerging media. It’s Account Management 2.0.

Enter the curious octopus
Andrew Bailey, CEO of The&Partnership North America built on the mollusc metaphor and said he looks for account leaders who are a “curious octopus”: infinitely inquisitive and multi-disciplined, chock full of lateral thinking and collaboration.

A new breed of account leader is emerging who is a master of efficient integration. He or she has the ability to nimbly draw on agency or holding company resources on behalf of a client or business problem.

I placed one such leader who entered the agency to run a large home improvement account. He soon got promoted to orchestrate other agencies in that holding company on behalf of that client. He then created a whole discipline around the retail industry vertical winning other large clients.

No one knows what the future holds. But savvy account leaders should keep up with what’s on the horizon of communications and technology, applying best practices and diplomatically juggling and orchestrating many varied resources.

An octopus is said to be a highly intelligent creature. Tomorrow’s suit will need plenty of smarts and curiosity to have impact. And having a backbone couldn’t hurt.

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Panera Wants FDA to Call an Egg (and Only an Egg) an Egg

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Panera is trying to drum up some publicity over the definition of the word ‘egg.’ Credit: Panera Bread

Rather than taking a traditional approach to promiting its overhauled breakfast sandwiches, Panera Bread wants to get the government involved.

The fast-casual chain says it planned to file a citizen petition with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late Thursday night seeking a clearer definition from the agency on the term “egg.”

The filing stunt comes as Panera rolls out updated egg sandwiches nationwide—over-easy eggs on brioche buns—part of a larger effort to grow its breakfast business. Panera says research during its development process led it to realize that some rivals treat their eggs with additives, color them or freeze them. Now it’s trying to make the case that there’s enough of a difference among the methods to require a definition.

“We’re big advocates of ensuring people know what they’re eating,” says Panera’s senior VP of marketing, Chris Hollander. “We were surprised at just how complicated some of the other competition’s eggs were. It seemed like a natural for us to then reach out to the FDA.”

Of course, Panera isn’t waiting for any government response before other public outreach. A 15-second TV spot began airing this week, billboards now feature the updated sandwiches (including some with the yolk appearing to drip down from the sign) and on Friday it’s sampling the sandwiches in New York.

“It’s still just an egg, but there’s much more culinary expertise to it now,” says Hollander.

Panera previously used fresh eggs but placed them in the quick-serve industry’s ubiquitous rings to get that perfect circular shape meant for sandwiches. McDonald’s cracks eggs into such rings for cooking.

While Panera’s marketing isn’t calling out competitors by name, it says it reviewed products at chains including Burger King, Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Taco Bell.

“We chose to use ‘egg’ in the name of our breakfast sandwiches because we use a whole, shell egg to craft them,” Panera wrote in a draft of the letter to the FDA shared with the media before it was to be filed. “But we found that some foodservice and retail competitors use the same term, ‘egg,’ within their product names and product descriptions to describe menu items that contain egg patties or egg products containing food additives ranging from preservatives to colors to emulsifiers.”

The breakfast sandwich effort is Panera’s main marketing push for the first quarter, says Hollander. Anomaly is the creative agency on the campaign, with Wavemaker on media. Panera says it spends just north of $100 million a year on paid media.

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Amazon Has a Plan to Become Profitable. It's Called Advertising

Ad Age




Credit: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg

For more than two decades, Jeff Bezos has famously sacrificed profit for growth, persuading Wall Street that Amazon was best served pouring money into the logistical nuts and bolts that have turned his company into the Walmart of the web. More recently, investors have found solace in the company’s profitable cloud services business, which has helped offset losses in e-commerce. Still, for the past five years Amazon’s average profit margins have languished at about 1 percent.

Now along comes a business that could generate consistent and healthy returns: It’s called advertising. Over the past several years, Bezos & Co. have quietly put together the pieces for a marketing platform that lets Amazon make money from the sheer size of its audience.

Having bet on Amazon cloud services and pushed the shares past $1,300, investors are now salivating about the ad business, which doesn’t require big investments in new data centers or shipping hubs and generates fat margins. On Monday, BMO Capital Markets upped its Amazon price target to $1,600 a share, based largely on the growth of the ad business. Some analysts are predicting Amazon will reach $2,000, making it the first company with a $1 trillion market value.

“Advertising is the most profitable business in the world,” says Jay Kahn, a partner at Light Street Capital, who notes that Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. gets more than half its revenue from ads. “For Amazon, advertising is going to be more profitable than its cloud business.”

On Thursday Amazon once again reminded the world of its growing dominance, revealing a shortlist of North American cities vying to host the company’s second headquarters.

For years, Amazon kept advertising on the site subtle for fear of alienating shoppers who had become used to choosing what to buy based largely on customer reviews and price. Amazon has been slowly giving more prominent placement to sponsored products in search results, forcing brands to buy ads to win top billing. It’s easy to see why. By 2021, advertising on websites and mobile devices will account for half of all ad spending in the U.S., capturing greater share than television, radio, newspapers and billboards combined, according to eMarketer.

So far, that shift that has mostly benefited Google and Facebook. By contrast, Amazon has a tiny advertising business that last year generated $1.7 billion in revenue, according to EMarketer, compared with Google’s $35 billion and Facebook’s $17.4 billion. But it’s growing quickly because companies like Procter & Gamble and Mondelez see Amazon as the place to win the “digital shelf” in the same way they fought to win the physical shelf in supermarkets.

Amazon has an advertising platform no other company can match: a web store selling hundreds of millions of products combined with a streaming entertainment service and a trove of data about customer preferences. Amazon attracts 180 million U.S. visitors each month—all or most with shopping on their mind. And as more people shop on smartphones, they’re skipping search engines like Google for Amazon’s mobile app.

What’s your Amazon strategy?

Advertisers are paying attention. Just as big brands pressed their ad agencies a few years ago to devise plans to get the best bang for the ad buck with Google and Facebook, they’re now demanding an “Amazon strategy.” In November, ad giant Omnicom Group set up a specialized operation just to direct ad dollars to e-commerce, particularly Amazon, which has forced consumer brands to re-evaluate marketing decisions. “It’s wreaking havoc on traditional retail models,” says George Manas, president of Omnicom’s Resolution Performance Marketing.

In negotiations with advertisers, Amazon bills itself as a better advertising investment than Google’s search engine and Facebook’s social media platform since people on Amazon are looking to buy, according to three people familiar with the negotiations. Amazon declined to comment.

“Similar to the candy and magazine racks, which are the most valuable space in the store, Amazon is the most valuable space on the web because you are at the very bottom of the funnel,” says Scott Galloway, a marketing professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business and author of The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. “Not only are people about to make a purchase, but you know what’s in their basket. It’s hard to imagine a more target-rich medium than Amazon or robust offering.”

Amazon advertisements also offer real-time insights into how a marketing campaign is performing, a process that typically takes weeks when using traditional methods like TV commercials or coupons. “You can put a sale on Amazon and see relatively quickly if there’s an uptick,” says Neil Ackerman, a former Amazon and Mondelez executive who leads innovation for Johnson & Johnson’s global supply chain. “Amazon realizes it can use this to grow ad revenue and it can charge more because it provides instant results.”

Meanwhile, Amazon is pushing beyond the sponsored search results and display ads that are the bulk of its ad business. The company is more aggressively selling itself as a lifestyle media brand that influences purchasing decisions elsewhere, similar to magazine advertisements or billboards, the people said. It is increasing its investment in a data team tasked with measuring how advertisements on Amazon generate sales beyond Amazon, one of the people said, since that is more difficult to measure than advertisements on Amazon that directly result in sales.

Future advertising products could include buying products within Amazon Video programs, using the “X-ray” feature that currently lets viewers learn more about a particular actor during a show, according to two people familiar with the matter. And while Amazon maintains it won’t sell advertising on its voice-activated Alexa platform, advertisers are inquiring given the buzz around its Echo digital assistants, two people said.

Big packaged goods companies are signing on. Executives see Amazon as the future way to reach shoppers and are shifting spending from traditional advertising channels to cement their place with Amazon. Even though Amazon has small grocery market share, brands think the next few years are critical because once shoppers establish regular shopping lists online, it will be hard to woo them back. Big grocery brands and manufacturers spend $225 million on advertising and in-store promotions each year, with more money shifting to digital advertisements, according to Cadent Consulting Group. Big Food has been mired in a sales slump for years amid changes in how consumers shop and eat; having an Amazon strategy helps them signal to Wall Street they’re keeping pace with the changes.

“Grocery manufacturers and brands are shifting money because they don’t want to lose on Amazon,” says Guru Hariharan, a former Amazon executive and CEO of Boomerang Commerce, which makes software that help brands sell online. “You cannot lose the Amazon battle and hope to survive over the next 10 years.”

Ultimately Amazon could upend the entire advertising industry, although some analysts believe Google will withstand the threat, as it did when Facebook pushed into the market. The ad money going to Amazon isn’t necessarily being redirected from Google. Instead it is dollars once allotted for TV or offline retail promotions, according to Resolution Performance Marketing’s Manas, who says: “I’m seeing it come from all sorts of nooks and crannies.”

— Bloomberg News

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