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Why only some celeb-led stunts work.
December 08, 2023

Marketing Brew

Walmart Business

You made it to Friday. Outback Steakhouse this week rolled out Koala on the Walla, an Elf on the Shelf–like plush koala bear. Based on the ad creative, this marsupial is most definitely a narc.

In today’s edition:

—Katie Hicks, Jasmine Sheena

BRAND STRATEGY

Snoop or dupe?

Screenshots via SnoopDogg and Solo Stove Screenshots via @SnoopDogg/Instagram, Solo Stove/YouTube

In January 2019, Kris Jenner told everyone on Twitter to #getready for a big announcement from her daughter, Kendall, praising her for sharing her “most raw story” yet. The next day, Jenner revealed…that she was the new face of Proactiv. And many on the internet laughed.

A year later, Tom Brady tweeted a cryptic black-and-white photo amid rumors that he was leaving the Patriots. That turned out to be an ad for Hulu (as well as the cause of at least a few near-heart attacks across New England, according to some online comments).

So last month, when Snoop Dogg announced in an Instagram post that he was “giving up smoke,” it might not be surprising to hear that some people were immediately skeptical. And that skepticism was rewarded: It was, in fact, an ad, this time for Solo Stove smokeless fire pits.

Even if the ad elicited some eye rolls, Mik Manulik, VP and creative director at The Martin Agency, told us that the responses to the campaign have been “better than [his team] could have imagined.”

But there’s a fine line between frustrating fans and sticking the landing, so what is the key to executing a celebrity-driven teaser without leaving audiences feeling overhyped or potentially duped?

No blowing smoke: “There’s definitely a right way to do it and a wrong way to do it,” Molly Barth, senior cultural strategist at consultancy sparks & honey, told us.

  • While a seemingly blemish-free Kendall Jenner striking a partnership with an acne-care brand might not exactly scream authenticity, she said, Snoop Dogg x Solo Stove was “done very, very well” because it connected back to Snoop’s personal brand as a well-known cannabis smoker.
  • It helped, too, that the Solo Stove campaign leaned into “a sort of memeification” and humor, which Barth said was “critical” to its success.

The messaging also worked for Snoop Dogg x Solo Stove, she said, because it wasn’t as vague as some other teasers. When celebrities or influencers make announcements like, “Big thing coming,” and it ends up being an ad, she said it can come across to some as “disingenuous and sort of money-grabbing.”

Continue reading here.—KH

     

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AGENCIES

Cost-cutting, continued

Layoffs are illustrated by an oversized pair of scissors, that looms over seven workers sitting in office chairs suspended by strings. mathisworks/Getty Images

This holiday season may not be looking so jolly for some people in adland, unfortunately. IPG laid off staffers across its UM and Magna arms, according to Digiday, marking the latest in multiple rounds that happened over the year both at IPG and in the larger industry.

The recent layoffs affected senior leadership, among others: EVPs Brian Hughes and Scott Suky, at Magna and UM respectively, were dismissed, Digiday reported, as were UM EVPs Kristin Jones and Andrea Ebert. The latest changes add to a year of considerable executive turnover at IPG, whose data boss, Arun Kumar, as well as UM privacy head Arielle Garcia and UM global chief media officer Joshua Lowcock, all vacated their roles in recent months. UM also lost its CEO, Sasha Savic, in June, less than five months after he assumed the role.

IPG did not return Marketing Brew’s request for comment by publication.

Financially, 2023 has been a mixed bag for IPG. The group notched several business wins, gaining the accounts of Geico, General Mills, and Bristol Myers Squibb, among others. However, in September, Amazon put its account with IPG Mediabrands in review, and BMW broke up with IPG in October, handing its US, Canada, and Latin America business to Omnicom.

IPG will also lose Spotify, which put its account under review in November.

Happening all over again: After IPG’s Deutsch New York lost its PNC Bank account to Arnold Worldwide in June, Deutsch canned nearly 20% of its workforce. And IPG’s R/GA cut roughly 15% of its staff this spring.

Across the industry, layoffs have been commonplace this year. Stagwell cut 300 staffers in the first quarter, and one of its agencies, Anomaly, shed almost 10% of its employees in January, citing a loss of business from Dunkin’ Donuts as a catalyst. In March, Accenture, which owns Accenture Song and Droga5, said it would cut 19,000 jobs over the next 18 months. RPA also cut staff in May.—JS

     

SOCIAL

Goin’ for a scroll

A FabFitFun promotion offering a free gift to annual X subscribers with the code "GoFuckYourself," and a screenshot of George Santos recording a Cameo video saying "Merry Christmas!" on behalf of Sen. John Fetterman Screenshots via u/aka_chela/Reddit, @johnfetterman/Instagram

Each week, Marketing Brew recaps what people are talking about on social media, the trends that took over our feeds, and how marketers are responding.

FabFitFlop? Earlier this week, subscription-box company FabFitFun started running an ad on X that said it was pledging “an additional $100k of X advertising in support of its free speech ideals” and giving out free gifts to “new annual X users” with the code “GoFuckYourself”—in an apparent sign of support for Elon Musk after he told advertisers to do just that last week following advertiser pullback. Immediately, users and non-users alike were going, ”Wait, is this real?”

It was, in fact, real, and the chatter began online, with one TikToker saying the company had “lost its mind.” Some customers said they canceled their memberships in response to the ad. People on X and Reddit also discovered, as a result of this saga, that at least one of the founders of the company is a dude who has expressed support of Musk—perhaps a surprise considering that the brand’s Instagram account notes that it is “women-owned.”

According to a post from FabFitFun co-founder Katie Echevarria Rosen Kitchens, the code was “ill-advised,” and in another post, Kitchens described the $100k amount as part of a marketing test on the platform, Modern Retail noted. FabFitFun did not respond to Marketing Brew’s request for comment.

Diva down and out: Expelled congressman George Santos, known for allegedly spending thousands of campaign dollars on OnlyFans and a Birkin bag, is now on Cameo—and seemingly raising his prices by the hour. According to Semafor, Santos is pulling in six figures, at least some of which came from Sen. John Fetterman’s office. Now the question is, will former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy join the platform next?

Read the room: Netflix’s social posts about the film May December aren’t quite landing the way the streaming platform probably expected they would. While we’ve all grown used to the overly casual brand voice on social media, people rightfully noted that there’s a time and place for thirsty posts—and it’s probably (definitely) not in promotions for a movie about grooming and abuse.

Read more here.—KH

     

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FRENCH PRESS

French press Morning Brew

There are a lot of bad marketing tips out there. These aren’t those.

FYP 101: Tips and hacks to help get content placed on the main TikTok feed.

Creator economy: Lessons on crafting creator-led TikTok ads, according to a creator marketing platform.

Link back: A guide to backlinks and how to use them to improve SEO.

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WISH WE WROTE THIS

a pillar with a few pieces of paper and a green pencil on top of it Morning Brew

Stories we’re jealous of.

  • The New York Times wrote about cable TV’s transformation into “zombie TV” as new original programming on premium channels largely evaporates.
  • The Verge wrote about how Google fudged a demonstration of its latest AI model, Gemini.
  • The Atlantic wrote about the “soullessness” of gift guides.

RETAIL MARKETING

AI Holiday Shopping

RTB GC - AI Holiday Shopping Image Carol Yepes/Getty Images

Curious about AI's influence on the customer experience and online sales this holiday season? Check out this Retail Brew article for key insights to supercharge your retail marketing strategy.

Download here.

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