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.
Marketing for the burgeoning ride-hailing industry has a dual aim: Attract riders and drivers. Because if that balance gets out of whack, the business model falls apart. With a digital video debuting today, Lyft is reaching out to both drivers and riders as it seeks to position itself as a company that brings the two communities together. The animated video tells the story of a lonely widow who becomes a Lyft driver and is ultimately helped out by Lyft riders after she gets into some road trouble on the wintry streets of Chicago.
The marketer is screening the film, called "June," at "pink carpet" events today in Los Angeles and Chicago in celebration of "Lyft Driver Appreciation Day." The video was directed by John Kahrs, and scored by composer Christophe Beck. Also involved was Lyft's creative director, Ricardo Viramontes. "'June' connects communities by blurring lines between riders and drivers and highlighting that we are all one in the same," Mr. Viramontes said in a statement. "This film was inspired by the Lyft drivers and passengers who make it more than just a ride, and as John Kahrs and I read through countless stories, we realized there was a strong common theme of people coming together through the Lyft experience." The video features the original song, "Moving," that was written by a former Lyft driver known as Sir the Baptist. Stated Lyft: "In pursuit of his dreams, Sir the Baptist served Chicago's Lyft community as a driver for more than two years. While earning income on his own schedule, the rapper established professional connections and drew inspiration for many of his songs from interactions with his passengers."
Moving on to other Lowdown items …
Here's more proof that Budweiser's summer gambit to rebrand itself as "America" paid off: The phrase "Budweiser America" was the top beer-related search term in the U.S. on Google, according to its annual year in search report. Honda was the top-searched car brand. Big Mac came in first on the list of "calorie" searches. (Answer: A Big Mac has 540 calories.) Sangria was the top-searched cocktail. The most popular GIF search? That was "Puppy Monkey Baby" -- which was the name of the creature starring in a Super Bowl commercial for Mtn Dew's Kickstart line extension. See all the top searches here.
Kind is out with its first content series, Kind People, to showcase winners of the snack brand foundation's effort to reward people taking on societal issues. The seven winners of the Kind Program are being featured in written stories done in partnership with media brand Good and videos done in partnership with Soul Pancake. One winner, Doniece Sandoval, is receiving $500,000, while the six others each get $100,000. Ms. Sandoval founded Lava Mae, which repurposed old transportation buses into showers and toilets for use by San Francisco's homeless population. "These remarkable human beings capture the spirit we need to elevate and the values that make America great, including kindness, respect and the conviction that we can make a positive difference in each other's lives," Daniel Lubetzky, founder and CEO of Kind and president of The Kind Foundation, said in a statement.
With less than two weeks to go until Christmas, Burger King is already thinking about how some people may want to return unwanted gifts. So on Dec. 26 it plans to offer a gift exchange. Patrons in the Miami Beach, Fla., area can bring their unwanted gifts to the Burger King restaurant at 910 Arthur Godfrey Road and get a Whopper in exchange. People outside the area can post a photo on Twitter or Instagram with their unwanted items and the #WhopperExchange hashtag, and BK plans to give 100 fans "a surprise" from the brand's social media accounts. The swap will also happen in person in select restaurants in Brazil and London. The chain plans to donate the gifts to charity. The campaign is from AKQA Brasil Comunicação Ltda.
Domino's is getting some pizza company in Amazon's Alexa voice command world. Starting Thursday, Pizza Hut customers can select and place an order using the Alexa Voice Service on Amazon Echo, Amazon Tap, Echo Dot, Amazon Fire TV and Fire tablets. Pizza Hut said patrons can order from favorites and past orders, as well as by choosing from a menu of some of its most popular items. The Yum Brands chain said the voice command options include saying phrases such as "Alexa, ask Pizza Hut for a pizza."
Just three months into its existence, and Storey, the PR arm of production company North Six created in September, has already landed a big win. The agency will begin working with San Francisco-based apparel brand Gap and its athletic line GapFit. The new work includes content, influencer campaigns and PR, said Storey founder Rana Reeves on the company's Instagram account.
Like that cap Russell Simmons wears with the N_ on it? You're in luck. New York-based digital agency Narrative_, which Mr. Simmons co-founded three years ago, is launching its own e-commerce shop. Called House of Narrative_, the site will sell around 20 different items including Mr. Simmons' cap, which is made by Under Armour (a client), and a line of lapel pins etched with sayings from Narrative_ co-founder and chief executive Tricia Clarke-Stone.
Good news for that eventual robot uprising. People are warming up to chatbots. A new study found that one in three consumers, or 37%, are willing to make a purchase through a chatbot; such shoppers would spend an average of $55.80 per purchase, according to research from DigitasLBi and Harris Poll, which found that more than 50% of millennials are willing to receive chatbot recommendations.
Lastly, one executive move to report this week: Anheuser Busch InBev's U.S. division has promoted Azania Andrews to VP of its Ultra brand. She was former senior director of digital connections. Her promotion comes as the brewer dissolves its digital connections team as it moves its digital brand managers into individual brand marketing teams where they will report to brand VPs.
Contributing: Adrianne Pasquarelli, Jessica Wohl, E.J. Schultz