Behind Airbnb’s purchase of HotelTonight and push into hotels


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It’s all coming true. Rumors about an Airbnb IPO have been swirling for years—today, the travel giant confirmed its plans to go public next year. The company was also expected to push further into hotels with its acquisition earlier this year of startup HotelTonight. Sam Shank, co-founder of HotelTonight, now heads up Airbnb’s hotel division, and spoke about the push on Thursday at a New York City-based conference hosted by travel industry publication Skift. Shank noted that his team is building out the hotel category on Airbnb for the San Francisco-based company, which purchased HotelTonight, an app that popularized the last-minute booking trend, in March. While Airbnb was built for homes, it began venturing further into hotels by adding boutique listings more than two years ago. “We’re very excited about the progress,” Shank said Thursday, as he promised “more to come.” He noted the challenge of being “supplier friendly” and Continue reading "Behind Airbnb’s purchase of HotelTonight and push into hotels"

Ralph Lauren is getting in on the ‘Friends’ action with a Rachel collection


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As "Friends" celebrates its 25th anniversary, we’ve already seen collaborations from a bevy of brands including Pottery Barn and Lego, while consumers are clamoring to visit a pop-up replica of the show’s coffee house in New York this month. Now, Ralph Lauren, the high-end apparel brand, is getting in on the action with a ready-to-wear collection modeled after character Rachel Green, whose waitress-turned-fashion-executive career arc embodied a true Cinderella story. The character, perhaps best known for inspiring hundreds of shag haircuts in the late 90s, worked her way up the corporate retail ladder before eventually landing at Ralph Lauren for several seasons. That storyline, coupled with the moment 90s looks are currently having, serves up the perfect opportunity for the New York-based brand to attract buzz and sales. The ready-to-wear collection, which the brand worked on with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, includes autumnal pieces like turtlenecks, black leather trousers and Continue reading "Ralph Lauren is getting in on the ‘Friends’ action with a Rachel collection"

Christmas Creep already as Etsy and eBay run holiday-related marketing


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What’s scarier than Halloween? Maybe retailers running holiday ads in mid-September. This week, both Etsy and eBay began running holiday-related messaging. While the latter was poking fun at Christmas Creep—the industry term for holiday merchandise and marketing that takes place far ahead of Thanksgiving—both marketers are trying to draw attention to their brands ahead of the crucial spending season. On Monday, Etsy, the Brooklyn-based crafts marketplace, began running “Here’s to the Givers,” a campaign that highlights different seasonal products available on its platform and the makers that create them. The push includes a series of 10 30- and 15-second TV spots that will run here and in the U.K., digital ads and a social influencers campaign. Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Scott, who joined in June from pizza platform Slice, says this is the first time Etsy is running TV ads for the holidays. He also notes that consumers think Continue reading "Christmas Creep already as Etsy and eBay run holiday-related marketing"

How d-to-c bedding brand Boll & Branch is moving beyond the thread count


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There’s a common misconception when it comes to sheets that threadcount is all that matters. Scott Tannen, a veteran marketer who founded Boll & Branch, a bedding brand, five years ago, wants to tell you otherwise. Speaking on the latest episode of Ad Age’s Marketer’s Brief podcast, Tannen explains that high thread counts, something consumers have been trained for years to covet, are basically meaningless. “Thread count is more of a measure of how dense and thick the fabric is—it has nothing to do with how comfortable or how soft the product is going to be,” Tannen says. “That boils down to the quality of the material.” Tannen works alongside his wife, Missy, a co-founder of the company who handles the creative aspects of the brand. The sheets, which are sourced from India in a supply chain the husband-and-wife team control, are less expensive than their designer counterparts. A set of Continue reading "How d-to-c bedding brand Boll & Branch is moving beyond the thread count"

Target rolls out Target Circle loyalty program ahead of Black Friday


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With less than three months to go before Thanksgiving, Target is hoping a revamped loyalty program will help secure its place as a winner this holiday shopping season. The retailer announced this week it is rolling out its Target Circle rewards program, which it has been testing in select cities, to all locations nationwide. The expansion will take place Oct. 6. With no enrollment or membership cost, Target Circle is designed as a complement to the Minneapolis-based retailer’s existing RedCard credit card, according to Rick Gomez, executive VP and chief marketing and digital officer at Target. From their purchases, Target Circle members earn 1 percent back that they can use on future buys at the retailer. Members are also able to vote on community charity initiatives and receive personalized deals, like 5 percent discounts on birthdays and early access to sales. Target Circle will also incorporate the retailer’s Cartwheel deals Continue reading "Target rolls out Target Circle loyalty program ahead of Black Friday"

Squeezed by Google, TripAdvisor switches up media strategy


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As Google ramps up its own travel offerings, online travel agencies are beginning to change up their strategies in retaliation. The latest move comes from TripAdvisor, which today announced it has consolidated its global media account with Havas Media Group, following a review that began in early 2019.

Havas had been serving large chunks of the account via Havas Edge in the U.S. and Canada since 2017, and with Havas Edge sibling shop All Response Media in the U.K. But Massachusetts-based TripAdvisor also used smaller shops around the globe. Havas will now hold the global media agency-of-record title. The company said it will capitalize on Havas’ relationship with its parent, Vivendi, which bought a majority stake in the agency network in 2017 and also owns such properties as Universal Music Group. in the U.S. the account will be led by Havas Media.

A TripAdvisor spokesman says TripAdvisor will focus more on digital and Continue reading "Squeezed by Google, TripAdvisor switches up media strategy"

Ancestry hires a chief revenue officer to lead marketing


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Another CMO role is disappearing. Ancestry, the genealogy company, announced Friday the hire of Mike Linton as the brand’s first chief revenue officer, in charge of marketing. Linton, who was formerly the chief marketing officer at Farmers Insurance, will start in the new role on Sept. 23. He’s tasked with leading all consumer and product marketing and will report to Ancestry CEO Margo Georgiadis, who joined the Lehi, Utah-based company last year after leading Mattel. Ancestry last had a CMO with Vineet Mehra, who departed late last year to take on the top marketing gig at Walgreens. Since then, marketing has been handled by Todd Pollack, who was hired as senior VP of global customer experience and product commercialization from Google, and Caroline Sheu, who was promoted to senior VP, North American marketing after Mehra’s exit. Both executives will now report to Linton. “The link between marketing and revenue generation Continue reading "Ancestry hires a chief revenue officer to lead marketing"

WeWork plans to ramp up marketing spend as it goes public


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Consumers can expect to see a lot more WeWork ads in the future. The 9-year-old real estate brand, which rents out co-working spaces, filed paperwork Wednesday for its initial public offering. In the filing, filled out by parent company the We Company, WeWork wrote that it expects to lay into more “traditional” marketing as it strives to move beyond the word-of-mouth referrals that have built up its reputation in recent years. In the past, such referrals from existing members have kept marketing costs low, the New York-based brand disclosed. “To the extent that we are unable to maintain a positive brand reputation organically, we may need to rely more heavily on traditional marketing efforts to attract new members, which would increase our sales and marketing expenses in both absolute terms and as a percentage of our revenue,” reads the 130-page filing, which references marketing 113 times. For the six months that Continue reading "WeWork plans to ramp up marketing spend as it goes public"

Kohl’s taps Facebook to ‘curate’ new and emerging brands


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Kohl’s may not be the first retailer that comes to mind when shoppers think of digital pioneers, but the 57-year-old company has made tech innovation a priority in recent years, piloting programs with Amazon and introducing new features like self-checkout and locker pickups. Now, the Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin-based brand is turning to Facebook as a partner in finding new brands it hopes will attract shoppers to its store and website. On Tuesday, Kohl’s announced “Curated by Kohl’s,” which will highlight products from new and emerging brands as discovered by Facebook. The retailer is using the phrase “powered by Facebook” to describe the new offering, which will debut in mid-October at more than 50 Kohl’s stores and Kohls.com. Starting in 2020, Facebook will help identify brands that advertise on its platform that may be a good fit for the Kohl’s program. Brands will try for the privilege through an application process. “Curated by Continue reading "Kohl’s taps Facebook to ‘curate’ new and emerging brands"

Another d-to-c brand gets snapped up as Steve Madden buys Greats


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Sneaker brand Greats is stepping up—to a new parent company. Steve Madden is acquiring the direct-to-consumer brand, which was founded five years ago in Brooklyn, the companies announced on Monday. Greats’ purchase is the latest example of a d-to-c player getting snapped up by a larger company looking to diversify its target consumer and learn from the digitally native business model. The new deal is expected to help grow the Greats brand by using the infrastructure and financial backing of Steve Madden, which already owns brands such as Betsey Johnson and Dolce Vita, and licenses others including Kate Spade and Superga. For Steve Madden, a company founded nearly three decades ago, having Greats in its stable could help win over younger, more digitally focused consumers. Both Edward Rosenfeld, chairman and CEO, and founder Steve Madden provided statements about Greats’ influence with “today’s more casual consumer” and “millennial men" in a press release. Continue reading "Another d-to-c brand gets snapped up as Steve Madden buys Greats"

Lego’s ‘Friends’ set is the obvious collab we should have seen coming


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Some might think we’ve reached peak "Friends" nostalgia—Pottery Barn recently released a retail collection to celebrate the well-loved sitcom’s 25th anniversary and WarnerMedia’s new direct streaming service just picked up the series to run next spring. Or, if you miss Joey, Chandler, Ross, Rachel, Monica and Phoebe enough, perhaps you'll pay $30 to experience a replica Central Perk pop-up shop in New York, modeled after the gang’s favorite hangout spot, and museum—and likely stand on line for the experiential privilege. Now Lego has entered the fray, with the toymaker clearly recognizing the financial potential of Friends’ long-running popularity: This week, Lego debuted its own Lego Ideas Central Perk set, which includes a recreation of the café and memorabilia from the show. Replicas of all main characters are included, even Gunther, the pathetic coffee shop owner.

The new Lego kit might not be much of a stretch considering the brand already Continue reading "Lego’s ‘Friends’ set is the obvious collab we should have seen coming"

Gin Lane pivots from agency to d-to-c retailer


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Gin Lane, the agency best known for the branding behind retailers such as Harry’s, Sweetgreen and AYR, is phasing out all of its clients with the exception of one: itself. The 11-year-old agency is changing its business model to become a direct-to-consumer retailer instead of an agency. On Tuesday, Gin Lane will become Pattern, which its founders expect to eventually become a parent of as many as five different brands. “We’re trying out this moniker, d-w-c, direct-with-consumer,” says Nicholas Ling, who had been CEO of Gin Lane and is now CEO and co-founder of Pattern. “We’re trying to build a business that thinks a bit longer term about more meaningful relationships with people.” The company, which began the planning the transition to retail a year ago by winding down client relationships, employs about two dozen staffers; Ling says that number will double within the next year. He notes that Pattern Continue reading "Gin Lane pivots from agency to d-to-c retailer"

Canada Goose dials down marketing claims of ethical animal treatment


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Under scrutiny for promises of ethical treatment of the animals used in its manufacturing, Canada Goose is changing up its marketing language. The Toronto-based retailer was investigated by the Federal Trade Commission’s division of advertising practices earlier this year following a complaint by PETA. The retailer, popular for its parka coats made with goose down feathers and trimmed with coyote fur, no longer uses the word “ensure” regarding its standards for animal abuse by its suppliers, according to PETA. In addition, PETA found that Canada Goose removed from its website a “down traceability” video meant to showcase the brand’s tracking practices when it comes to making sure animals are not abused—the supplier highlighted in the video had engaged in animal abuse, PETA said. Canada Goose did not reply to a request for comment. The FTC investigated Canada Goose earlier this year after PETA’s complaint. On June 17, the organization sent Continue reading "Canada Goose dials down marketing claims of ethical animal treatment"

Small Agency Campaign Of The Year, Pro Bono, Gold: Casey House, “The Healing House,” Bensimon Byrne


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After discovering through a survey that 95 million people incorrectly believe they can contract HIV simply through touch, Bensimon Byrne set out to debunk that perception for Casey House, the Canadian hospital for those with HIV and AIDS. Late last year, the agency created a pop-up spa called Healing House, where a group of HIV-positive therapists gave out free massages and facials. Journalists were invited to book appointments and spread the word as part of the #SmashtheStigma campaign.  Just like a similar endeavor from 2017—an HIV-positive restaurant—the effort accomplished its goal of overcoming some of the stigma associated with the disease—even without media dollars behind it. The campaign generated some 360 million media impressions and a flurry of social activity in Canada. According to follow-up surveys, 85 percent of those who booked massages said they felt more compassion for HIV patients, while 77 percent said their beliefs had been Continue reading "Small Agency Campaign Of The Year, Pro Bono, Gold: Casey House, “The Healing House,” Bensimon Byrne"

Small Agency Campaign Of The Year, Experiential, Gold: “Palessi,” DCX Growth Accelerator


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A luxury store called Palessi opened in Los Angeles in late 2018 to promote its high-end shoes. A bevy of fashion influencers and “it” girls, eager to try and buy what they thought to be genuinely upscale footwear—at $200 to $640 a pair—flocked to the store’s launch party. But the joke, courtesy of Brooklyn-based agency DCX Growth Accelerator, was on them—the shop was a marketing stunt from bargain-basement shoe brand Payless, which, amid financial struggles and a recent bankruptcy, was desperate for retail relevance. DCX’s campaign worked—for a little while. A video clip that included interviews with stunned fashionistas went viral, helping to augment the push and earn 8.8 billion global media impressions. Palessi appeared on more than 1,640 broadcast shows including“Good Morning America” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” The Washington Post called the campaign the “prank of the century,” while Maxim dubbed it, “Don-Draper-level brilliant marketing.”  Continue reading "Small Agency Campaign Of The Year, Experiential, Gold: “Palessi,” DCX Growth Accelerator"

Small Agency Of The Year, Southeast, Gold: Creative Energy Group


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Creative Energy may not have a big-market ad agency address, but it’s using its Johnson City, Tennessee headquarters in the Appalachian Mountains as a distinct selling point to attract new clients tired of city slicker types, and creative talent yearning for a more rural work environment. The group, which has roughly 45 employees, recently hired Benji Vega from the Richards Group as chief creative officer, and Greg Nobles, formerly of Leo Burnett, as creative director. It also nabbed work from big-name clients including Garner Foods and Coca-Cola Food Service. Earlier this year, Garner’s Texas Pete hot sauce tapped Creative Energy for a campaign designed to fend off its peppery rivals. “Sauce Like You Mean It” invents a “tribe” of brand enthusiasts who are encouraged to “go Pete, or go home.” The work sure heated up sales: Texas Pete met its 2018 full-year sales goals within the first quarter, Creative Continue reading "Small Agency Of The Year, Southeast, Gold: Creative Energy Group"

Why retailers are investing in clothing rental services


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Millennials have spoken—and they are just fine with renting over buying, even their clothes. The rental trend has long been apparent in urban areas for categories like housing and automobile, but it’s now picking up steam in the apparel market as well. Rent the Runway, which was founded a decade ago as a special-occasion rental opportunity for consumers who coveted the designer duds they couldn’t quite afford, is no longer the only game in town. A host of competitors are popping up with compelling propositions for consumers even as established retailers like Express and REI explore their own rental models. Nuuly, Urban Outfitters’ new subscription offering, debuted on Tuesday. At the same time, Armoire, a two-year-old fashion startup that targets professional women too busy to shop with a subscription clothing rental program, is in expansion mode.

In its annual State of Fashion 2019 report published last fall, the Business of Continue reading "Why retailers are investing in clothing rental services"

Ralph Lauren sales rise, thanks to fresh marketing and bigger budgets


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At 52 years old, the Ralph Lauren brand might be a Gen Xer, but the retailer is finally starting to resonate with Gen Z and millennials. On Tuesday, the New York-based clothier reported a rise in revenue and profit and called out fresh marketing as a reason for the uptick. As part of its goal to “win over a new generation of customers,” Ralph Lauren ramped up its marketing spend in the first quarter by 19 percent, the company said Tuesday. Recent campaigns such as a “Family is Who You Love,” a look at diverse group of families that the brand ran in April, new sustainability products such as a polo shirt made of recycled water bottles, partnerships with celebrities such as BTS and Selena Gomez, and a Gen Z-focused activation at Wimbledon helped attract new customers, CEO Patrice Louvet said on a call with analysts. The company is working Continue reading "Ralph Lauren sales rise, thanks to fresh marketing and bigger budgets"

Chase commits to AI after machines outperform humans in copywriting trials


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Chase is getting more creative with its marketing language—by tapping machines to write it. The bank announced Tuesday it has signed a five-year deal with Persado, a New York-based company that applies artificial intelligence to marketing creative. Chase began testing a pilot relationship with Persado three years ago, by using the tool for its card and mortgage businesses. That relationship has now expanded across the financial giant’s platforms. Chase says that ads created by Persado’s machine learning performed better than ads written by humans, with a higher percent of consumers clicking on them—more than twice as many in some cases. The difference can be as simple as what word choice resonates with consumers. One digital ad written by humans read, “Access cash from the equity in your home.” However, Persado’s version, “It’s true—You can unlock cash from the equity in your home,” performed better with customers. Kristin Lemkau, chief marketing officer of Continue reading "Chase commits to AI after machines outperform humans in copywriting trials"