The Lowdown is Ad Age's weekly look at news nuggets from across the world of marketing, including trends, campaign tidbits, executive comings and goings and more.
YouTube's brand-safety crisis has scared off many advertisers, but some seem relatively unconcerned. Hello's new "An Inconvenient Tooth" video from 72andSunny played Monday just after a YouTube post of Steve Stephens' Facebook Live rant about plans to kill people in Cleveland. (Stephens also posted a video of a live murder on Easter, and was found dead Tuesday, apparently of a self-inflicted gunshot, in Pennsylvania.) A spokeswoman for Hello said the brand knew going in such placements were possible, but added: "Google has been a great partner in helping address it." Then there's a Cincinnati-based household name, not Procter & Gamble Co., but Roto-Rooter, whose ad from Curiosity Advertising showing a home drain-cleaning remedy has appeared in recent weeks with several questionable videos cited by brand-safety watchdog Eric Feinberg of Gipec (including the aforementioned Stephens video).
A spokesman for Roto-Rooter said the company was under the impression that it had discontinued its YouTube Trueview Discovery advertising as of March 29 for brand-safety reasons, based on the advice of its digital agency, Dentsu's 360i. So he couldn't explain how one of its ads continued to show up on YouTube earlier this week, though he believed it could be a result of retargeting maintaining the ad in the system somehow. A Google spokesman didn't immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment. Overall, Feinberg has fewer examples of questionable placements to share lately, which suggests either Google's safeguards are working or the advertiser exodus creates fewer opportunities.
We are already more than four months into the new year, but it's never too late to get a report card on 2016 brand performance. The latest one comes in the beverage industry where new data shows Coca-Cola outperforming PepsiCo last year. Soda's woes continued last year with both companies losing carbonated soft drink volume, according to a new report from industry tracker Beverage-Digest. But Coca-Cola showed modest improvement with soda volume across its brands falling by 0.7%, compared with 0.8% in 2015. PepsiCo's decline was 3.1%, matching 2015's loss, according to Beverage-Digest. Brand Coke actually eked out a 0.1 point share gain and now has 17.8% share of the soda category. Brand Pepsi lost 0.2 share points and now has 8.4% share.
Turning to alcoholic beverages, Ogilvy is the new agency-of-record for Red Stripe beer, which is controlled by Heineken. The shop will run the global account from its Miami office. The Jamaican brew is plotting a new global campaign that will include a new music platform, according to a statement from Ogilvy. "This campaign will be a major step for Red Stripe as it will ground the brand's positioning in the territory and exemplify what Red Stripe means to its adorers. It will breathe new life into the brand around the world because it is exciting, visual and speaks to the core of what the brand is," stated Blandine Jean-Paul, head of marketing and innovations at Red Stripe.
Urban Decay literally went underground to market its latest offering, the Jean-Michel Basquiat collection. The L'Oreal USA brand hosted a surprise "pre-tail" and content partnership around the launch at The New Stand store at the Union Square station on New York's subway from April 10-17 in advance of the official April 20 launch. The graphic and product-assortment takeover was meant to be "slightly elusive and all sorts of cool," said a spokeswoman. The New Stand is a novel retail/digital marketing concept ("phygital," as some might say) launched 18 months ago that operates the Union Square store and two other New York locations backed by a mobile app that feeds users daily deals, new-product information, music and videos. "We actually do a decent amount of sales in health and beauty items" with a shopper base that skews female, said New Stand CEO Andrew Deitchman. But this is the first time a beauty brand has tried a store takeover (eBay and Refinery 29 have had similarly big events). Olly used The New Stand to hand out stress-relief vitamins on Election Day. But Deitchman said, "As it turned out maybe we should have tried the day after Election Day."
In today's obvious pairings news, craft retailer Michael's and digital scrapbooking pioneer Pinterest are teaming up on DIY kits, which will be available first to Michael's Rewards customers starting April 20. Beyond begging the question of what took these two crazy kids so long to get together, the partnership will showcase popular home decor and style trends mined from Pinterest data. First up: shibori, the trendy dyeing technique. Pinterest found that searches for the trend are up 56% in the past year, with 2.6 million shibori ideas saved in 2016. The kits can only strengthen the already-strong Michael's brand with loyal customers, but they should also provide more offline awareness for the growing Pinterest. Earlier this year, the company debuted Shop the Look, where consumers can shop products via Buyable Pins from stores like Neiman Marcus and CB2.
You might say Amtrak runs on Dunkin'. Dunkin' Donuts original blend and decaf coffee are now being served on Amtrak's Acela Express trains along the Northeast Corridor, the busy route that runs from Boston through New York and south to Washington, D.C. Dunkin' and Amtrak, which kicked off the deal with a sampling event Wednesday in New York's Penn Station, said the coffee would be brewed using the same equipment Dunkin' uses in its restaurants. Dunkin's coffee will be added to the Northeast Regional trains that run on the same route starting later this year. The deal with Dunkin' only covers brewed coffee. Amtrak previously served a proprietary blend from a restaurant industry coffee packer on the Acela. Meanwhile, those who don't run on Dunkin' can still get a different java fix: Starbucks bottled iced coffee will remain for sale in the cafe car.
Kobe Bryant, who is filling his post-hoops-retirement days with creative and branding pursuits, will on Saturday premiere an animated short film called "Dear Basketball" at the Tribeca Film Festival. He teamed with animator Glen Keane on the project, which " brings Bryant's retirement announcement to life through hand-drawn animation and a score written by legendary composer John Williams," according to an announcement about the red carpet premiere.
Lastly, some executive moves …
Kimberly-Clark Corp. has brought in a seasoned packaged-goods marketer from outside as president of its $8 billion North American consumer-products business. Larry Allgaier, who once ran Pampers' North American business for rival Procter & Gamble Co. during a 20-year career there, now comes to the marketer of Huggies and Pull-Ups. He succeeds and reports to Michael Hsu, who in November became chief operating officer and heir apparent to current Chairman-CEO Tom Falk. Hsu likewise came to K-C as an outsider from Kraft five years ago. Allgaier was most recently president of the Mars Petcare Veterinary Health Group, and before that of Mars' $4 billion North America Petcare business. He was also former global head of Novartis' over-the-counter medicines unit.
Coty is building its digital marketing team by hiring Sean Foster as global senior VP-e-commerce strategy and execution. Foster, formerly CEO of Crowdtap, president of Avon online and head of marketing at Gilt.com, reports to Jason Forbes, chief digital and media officer. Forbes himself came to Coty from the outside in 2015 as CEO of Beamly, a digital content agency the company acquired. "Our priority is expanding consumer reach with better content on the right media platforms to drive sales in a highly fluid marketplace," Forbes said in a statement. "Sean's background is perfect for this."
Contributing: Jack Neff, Jessica Wohl, Adrianne Pasquarelli, E.J. Schultz