PORTAL A'S NATE HOUGHTELING TALKS ATHLETES ON YOUTUBE

BY DAVID GIANATASIO, THE MUSE

Last month, Adam Rippon skated into the YouTube spotlight in a big way. 

He launched his own channel, anchored by "Break the Ice," a weekly program featuring the Olympic figure-skating medalist, LGBTQ+ icon and Dancing With the Stars champion interviewing celebrities for about 10 minutes while gliding around a rink. (Well, Rippon glides. Most of his guests—like TV host Lilly Singh and beauty blogger Manny Mua, from the first two episodes—just try to keep their balance.)

Portal A, the San Francisco and Los Angeles-based digital studio, produces "Break the Ice." It's the second such content series from the agency, following last year's launch of Stephen Curry's "5 Minutes From Home," in which the NBA megastar chats with friends and notables in an SUV on his way home from Golden State Warriors games. 

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on The Muse.

GSTV LAUNCHES IN-HOUSE CREATIVE STUDIO

BY ERIK OSTER, AGENCY SPY

Yet another client has taken things in-house.

GSTV, the national digital video network for gas stations, developed its own creative service called Ignite.

Ignite will offer original content specifically designed for the platform as well as modification of existing content for the GSTV platform. It will also provide creative consultancy services for brands and agencies on how best to reach audiences on GSTV.

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on AgencySpy.

GSTV CEO SEAN MCCAFFREY ON DOOH AND PERSONALIZATION

BY SEAN MCCAFFREY, GSTV

Last month, McDonald’s announced its largest acquisition in 20 years. Yet the $300 million purchase of Dynamic Yield was notable for another reason: It legitimizes outdoor as a two-way medium for ad messages and delivers personalization at scale.

Simply put, McDonald’s, long a leader in outdoor advertising, has signaled that the space will be used for creating a dialogue between consumers and brands. The purchase lets McDonald’s vary its electronic display of items and DOOH network for walk-up or drive-thru customers based on the weather or consumer demand. For any franchisee who has ever mused that a product or service would be a perfect day for certain promotions then this purchase gives hope that they might be able to switch to promoting ice cold drinks when the temperature rises or hot chocolate on inclement days. But more importantly, it also connects that in-the-moment message to all other data-driven consumer engagements in both paid media and in-store messaging.

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on Adweek .

FANTASY'S PETER SMART ON THE NEED FOR HUMAN-CENTRIC CREATIVITY

BY PETER SMART, FANTASY

Prince Harry and his actress wife, Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, recently broke a global Instagram record by becoming the fastest account to attract 1 million followers. It took the glamorous royals less than six hours to reach the mark under their new @sussexroyal name. Two days later, they had 3.4 million followers. They now have more than 5 million. 

Why, then, 24 hours after launching @sussexroyal, would Harry be warning (not for the first time) of the dangers of sites like Instagram? He argued: "Social media is more addictive than drugs and alcohol, and it's more dangerous because it's normalized and there are no restrictions to it." He went on to call for the Fortnite video game to be banned, claiming "it's created to addict—an addiction to keep you in front of a computer for as long as possible. It's so irresponsible." 

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PORTAL A LAUNCHES MOONSHOTS PROGRAM WITH ALEXIS G. ZALL

BY GEOFF WEISS, TUBEFILTER

Maybe Today Satan is the first project Portal A has developed, produced, and funded as part of its recently-announced Moonshots program, in which it will partner with digital stars on innovative formats. It is also readying a second project with director-musician Mike Diva titled Alt Web that will explore the internet’s strangest and most fascinating corners.

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on Tubefilter.

HOW WAVE IS LEVERAGING UGC DIFFERENTLY

BY KERRY FLYNN, DIGIDAY

Wave creates seven to 10 editions across its stories channel and its publisher edition. The publisher views its success not just by the viewership numbers but the subscribers they gain from stories. One of Wave’s “Workout Warriors” stories garnered 47.3 million total views, 4.53 million unique views and 86,400 subscribers, according to Wave. An edition on “Flips” received 35.2 million total views, 3.4 million unique views and 100,300 subscribers.

“Wave has serialized all these segments across a wide array of topics and categories, essentially content verticals in the traditional sense but focused in a way that Snapchat audiences really love,” said Brian Verne, CEO of Wave.

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FORMER 'BUZZFEED' CRO JOINS WAVE EXECUTIVE TEAM

BY ALEX WEPRIN, MEDIAPOST

The former CRO of BuzzFeed, Andy Wiedlin, has joined the digital sports publisher Wave as Chief Business Officer.

Wiedlin will be tasked with bolstering Wave’s business, in part, by leveraging his expertise in branded and custom content. He had been an executive-in-residence and an independent advisor at the VC firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Wave is a distributed sports-media platform, with its content appearing on social platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and Twitter. According to Sharablee, it is the fourth-largest digital sports media publisher on social media, after Turner’s Bleacher Report, Disney (including ESPN) and Barstool Sports.

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TOMBRAS NAMED 2019 ADAGE AGENCY TO WATCH

BY MEGAN GRAHAM, ADAGE

The Tombras Group, 73 years old, is out to prove that Knoxville, Tennessee, is home to the next great agency. The family-owned, full-service shop—which also has offices in Nashville; Charlotte, North Carolina; Washington, D.C. and, coming soon, Atlanta—is led by Chairman Charles Tombras Jr., and his son, President Dooley Tombras. It recently named its first female CEO, longtime employee Alice Mathews. 

In 2018, new-business wins included Paddy Irish Whiskey, Boston Market and Walmart, and it continued its off-kilter Moon Pie social media work. Tombras helped Orangetheory Fitness hit what it claims was the chain’s biggest sales day ever with a campaign that offered a free workout to people who exercised during the extra hour of daylight saving. Tombras’ Walmart work included a Facebook Live concert in Harrisburg, Illinois, after a local, “Yodel Boy” Mason Ramsey, had been filmed singing in a Walmart there. The concert, the shops says, had 3.6 million online viewers who shared it 12,000 times.

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on AdAge.

INDUSTRY TOP HONORS: A-LIST

BY ADIRANNE PASQUARELLI, ADAGE

When the founders of Giant Spoon brainstormed names for their company six years ago, one reason they chose the oversized utensil was because they intended to “stir things up.” And the agency has indeed made waves: Giant Spoon is scooping up new clients and digging into up-and-coming business practices such as direct-to-consumer advertising and esports as it secures its reputation as an agency built for modern marketers.

In part that’s from thinking big early on and not limiting the company to one niche, says Jon Haber, co-founder of Giant Spoon, which is No. 3 on Ad Age’s A-List this year. “A lot of times in those [early] days, people said, ‘Pick a lane and focus,’ but we ignored that advice,” he says. “We said, ‘We need to build an agency to reflect the way people consume brands and content—we need to think across all forms and channels.’”

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GRAVITY'S MIKE GRILLO ON CREATING A MEMORABLE DTC BRAND

BY MIKE GRILLO, GRAVITY

For established brands and DTC companies alike, new product innovation is the lifeblood of sustainable growth and customer retention. The ease at which new players can enter any given category means competition is stiffer than ever.

While we know bringing new products to market quickly and efficiently is paramount to growth, it’s extremely difficult to do it cost effectively. Making a hit product that thousands of customers will love is like making a hit song. The best team with the most amazing marketing plan and biggest budget can fall flat. There are simply too many external factors that can make or break a product’s success.

What brands can do, though, is build infrastructure to rapidly concept, prototype and test products while minimizing the upfront investment to get to market. The steps aren’t set in stone, but look something like the following.

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GRAVITY BLANKET SELLER FUTURISM ACQUIRED BY SINGULARITY UNIVERSITY

BY FORBES, DIGIDAY

The publisher known for the viral gravity blankets has a new owner.

Futurism has been acquired by Singularity University, a Google- and Deloitte-backed business co-founded by inventor Ray Kurzweil that provides training, community, events and services to businesses and consumers. Following the acquisition, Futurism will help provide branded content creation and distribution services to Singularity’s members and clients. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. (Futurism’s commerce business was spun off last year into a successful standalone business called Gravity Products.)

WORKINPROGRESS LAUNCHES FIRST CAMPAIGN FOR JIMMY JOHN'S

BY THE DRUM, MEDIAPOST, AGENCYSPY, CHEDDARTV, CAMPAIGNUS

Jimmy John’s cited WIP’s “deep category experience and action based philosophy,” and “years of franchise experience.” adding, “Breaking through and generating momentum in the national restaurant franchise business requires deep knowledge of how a franchisee’s business runs both at the store level and as a whole … their approach is to look at the company and develop a strategy that looks years ahead, rather than at the next brief or campaign.”

Now, WIP has released its first campaign for the brand, which focuses on Jimmy John’s decision not to work with third-party delivery services.

WIP illustrates the point with a series of videos feature melodramatic readings of sad and/or angry reactions to the shortcomings of delivery services such as GrubHub, ending with the line, “We don’t let anyone else deliver our sandwiches for a reason.”

WORKINPROGRESS LAUNCHES "FREAKY FAST" CAMPAIGN FOR JIMMY JOHN'S

BY MEDIAPOST, ADAGE, AGENCYSPY

There are perils to ordering your food from a third-party delivery service.  It might take hours. It might arrive cold. Or crushed. Or something, inevitably, will be missing. Like that spicy mayo that is the reason you ordered those damn onion rings in the first place.

But sandwich shop Jimmy John’s wants you to rest assured. Nothing of the sort will happen if you order from its joint--at least when it comes to extended wait times and soggy grub. That’s because it’s putting a strict limit on its delivery zones, a point the company goes to ridiculous lengths to highlight in a pair of funny new spots from WorkinProgess.

GRAVITY'S KARALYN ZAMORA WEIGHS IN ON INSTAGRAM'S SHOPPABLE ADS

BY ANN-MARIE ALCANTARA, ADWEEK

Centeno agrees, however, that “diversification is critical” for DTC brands, and Karalyn Zamora, director of digital marketing at Gravity Products, thinks it’s a step in the right direction. Zamora said the seller fee isn’t a total turn off if checkout helps the company increase conversion rates and lower CPAs.

“Any platform that allows us to balance scale with efficiency is interesting to us,” Zamora said. “Additionally, we remain committed to sales channel diversity, using not only Instagram and Facebook, but Amazon and other traditional retailers as well to drive revenue. This diversification is imperative for any digitally native brand as they mature.”

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on Adweek .

GRAVITY UNVEILS NEW CBD LINE

BY KATIE SHAPIRO, FORBES

Sweet dreams are made of CBD. And even sweeter dreams could come when combining a nightly dose with a weighted blanket.

Gravity, which launched its signature product in 2017 thanks to a Kickstarter campaign raising more than $4.7 million, has just unveiled a pair of CBD (cannabidiol) gel capsules in collaboration with the Brooklyn-based supplement brand Mellowment.

A natural extension of its full suite of sleep and stress solution products, Mellowment + Gravity AM ($45) and PM ($75), go beyond the award-winning blanket (Time Magazine named it one of the Best Inventions of 2018) for an even sounder night’s sleep.

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on Forbes .

GRAVITY CEO MIKE GRILLO JOINS DIGIDAY'S MAKING MARKETING PODCAST

BY ADITI SANGAL, DIGIDAY

Born online direct-to-consumer brands are increasingly turning to traditional physical retail models to find new places for growth. Mike Grillo, CEO and co-founder at Gravity Products, thinks DTC is just a launch model and not a sustainable business model for the longer term.

Grillo found viral success when he, via the publisher Futurism, started Gravity Blankets, a weighted blanket that launched on Kickstarter. Today, the two-year-old company, which now operates on its own, runs lean, has $28 million in revenue and is profitable. Gravity sells through wholesale and even on Amazon.

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on Digiday.

GIANT SPOON AND HBO TAKE OVER SXSW, AGAIN

BY ADAGE, ADWEEK, BUSINESS INSIDER, MEDIAPOST, THE DRUM, MUSE

Would you open a vein for your favorite show?

To promote the latest season of Game of Thrones at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas this weekend, HBO has transformed a space into a living ode to the franchise—complete with an area where visitors, asked if they will "bleed for the throne," can donate blood to the American Red Cross. This year's installation for the show's eighth and final season is open at Fair Market, an events venue on the city's east side, through Saturday.

GIANT SPOON MAKES FAST COMPANY MOST INNOVATIVE LIST

BY EDITORIAL TEAM, FAST COMPANY

Giant Spoon is a full-service marketing agency that has worked with such brands as GE, HBO, Uber, and Warner Bros.

Giant Spoon has particularly distinguished itself with its experiential marketing work. Its re-creation of the Westworld theme park for a SXSW activation for HBO was one of the most-buzzed-about marketing events of 2018. Giant Spoon built its experience over 90,000 square feet and deployed 66 actors to create what it calls "immersive theater."

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on Fast Company.

GLOWS INTRODUCES AGENCY LOVE LETTERS

BY LINDSAY STEIN, CAMPAIGN US

New York City-based agency Glow knows how difficult relationships can be, which is why the indie shop decided to create a website to allow users to write nice - or not so nice - anonymous letters to their clients and agencies.

The site, AgencyLoveLetter.com, allows people to shower their agency and client partners with warm love letters or vent if they feel the need.

To make the effort even more fun, Glow is tracking the letter sentiment in real-time to determine the health of the relationship in both directions. Are the feelings of love (or disdain) mutual?

Click here or on the image to read the rest of this story on CampaignUS.