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.’”

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

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.

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

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.

GLOW GROOMS WESTMINSTER DOG SHOW FOR INTERNET FAME

BY LINDSAY RITTENHOUSE, ADWEEK

Until a few years ago, the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, established in 1877, was a one-day event cherished by an older audience of purebred enthusiasts who admired the parade of perfectly bred canines from the comfort of their own homes.

Today, it’s expanded into Westminster Week, held annually at New York’s Madison Square Garden, with contests including the Masters Agility Championship and Masters Obedience Championship that lead up to the main and final Best in Show event that aired this year on Tuesday night. Further social media-based efforts, like the Road to Westminster series, allow the handlers to post content throughout the year as their dogs train and enter other championships, giving audiences the opportunity to follow their favorites year round.

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

DESIGN TO SUPPORT MENTAL HEALTH

BY OLIVER MCATEER, CAMPAIGN

Chris Denny awoke to banging on his door at around 3.30am.

It was his neighbor -- a Santa Rosa police officer -- who alerted him to one of the most devastating wildfires that had ever torn through Sonoma County in California.

"At that point the sky looked like a dark red and bright orange sunrise," said founder and president of The Engine is Red ad agency, recalling that night in October 2017. "It was crazy-hot and ash and smoke was blowing at 40 miles-per-hour."

Denny and his neighbor spent the next two days sleeping in shifts as the Tubbs inferno wiped out around 6,000 homes and claimed 44 lives.

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

TOMBRAS SHOOTS BIZARRE MOONPIE SPOTS FOR SUPER BOWL

BY DAVID GRINER, ADWEEK

During last year’s Super Bowl, snack brand MoonPie may not have been an official part of the Big Game broadcast, but it was certainly participating in spirit. The Tennessee-based company’s Twitter feed spent that night posting completely bonkers scripts for Super Bowl ads it would have made if it had a few million dollars to burn.

The highly surreal scripts sparked thousands of engagements and left some wondering how the brand might follow it up this year. Well, tonight things got real. Really real.

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

WORKINPROGRESS LAUNCHES "ANTI-BRUNCH' CAMPAIGN FOR VILLAGE INN

BY MUSE BY CLIO, FORBES, ADAGE, AGENCYSPY

It's hard knocks for family restaurants—the Denny's, IHOPs and Village Inns of the country. Know what's killing them? (For once, the answer isn't millennials. Well … not directly.) 

Village Inn is betting it's brunch. 

Created by its agency of record WorkInProgress, "Anti-Brunch" is a full-frontal attack on the overpriced eggs, unpronounceable concepts and unbearable lines that characterize trendy brunch. 

THE TOMBRAS GROUP ADOPTION OF AI INTO MEDIA BUYING

BY ILYSE LIFFREING, DIGIDAY

Artificial intelligence for media buying remains a far-off dream.

“More marketers are using AI for media, but more is a relatively low bar when very few if any marketers were using AI for media as recently as two to three years ago,” said Brian Krick, evp of global media planning at WPP GroupM’s Essence. “It’s still in its infancy.” Krick said most of Essence’s clients are still learning about AI through pilot programs or research.

In media buying, AI is a forecasting process that analyzes massive amounts of consumer data and campaign content to measure campaign performance, allowing marketers to redirect budget toward ad placements that are performing the best. AI also helps marketers diminish their cost-per-acquisition while generating higher-quality leads by working to find the right match of images, videos, headlines and calls-to-action in campaign materials that get viewers to convert. Digiday research has found that marketers don’t understand AI well, with roughly half of the 37 marketers surveyed ranking their company’s understanding of AI as a C on a grade scale from A to F.

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

GIANT SPOON: MEDIAPOST CREATIVE AGENCY OF THE YEAR

BY JACK FEUER, MEDIAPOST

Attendees at last year’s SXSW were no doubt down for just about anything. Chances are, though, they never expected to find themselves in Sweetwater, the Wild West theme park featured in HBO’s smash hit “Westworld.”

Yet there it was, an immersive marvel that allowed visitors to stroll across more than 90,000 square feet of space, interact with 66 actors, and lose themselves in 444 pages of immersive theater.

In all, this alt-Westworld drew over 4,000 visitors, generated 1.9 billion social impressions and nearly 500 press stories from around the world. #SXSWestworld was hailed in one of those articles as “one of the best publicity stunts of the 21st Century.” Some diehards even got married in faux Sweetwater.

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

GLOW'S DUNCAN BIRD SHARES HIS FAVORITE WORK FROM 2018

BY TIM NUDD, THE MUSE

Our idea that worked
TBS, "Final Space: Cards with Gary"

Animators have long played with the idea of reality and animation interacting together. From Mary Poppins to Roger Rabbit, it seems we want to believe animated characters are real. As early as 1923, Walt Disney experimented with live action and animation in Alice's Wonderland. 

So when TBS wanted to try a Facebook Live experience for their show Final Space—a comedic epic sci-fi space opera, for those who don't normally seek out animation—we decided to create a live animated experience to build stronger fan connections and break the so called fourth wall. 

Using relatively new but untapped Facebook Live technology in a completely imaginative way, we built the first-ever livestreamed interactive game with an animated character voice acted in real time. 

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

DIGIDAY LOOKS AT HOW WE MEASURE ROI

BY ILYSE LIFFREING, DIGIDAY

Brands are asking more questions of their agencies when it comes to how public relations drive sales, rather than amorphous ideas around “earned” media. That, in turn, is leading to more brands choosing to in-house their public relations efforts to get more control and visibility into how it’s working.

One example is Sprint, which places a high premium on public relations specifically because telecom is a saturated market that relies on people converting from using other brands. The company now has a 20-person in-house team and says it has found improved measurement.

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

BIG SPACESHIP, GLOW AND PORTAL A WEIGH IN ON THEIR FAVORITE SUPER BOWL ADS

BY DOUG ZANGER, ADWEEK

An objective person could watch Super Bowl advertising and plausibly think: “Yeah, that’s a good ad.” Of course, in the ad agency world, creatives tend to be a little more critical, picking little things out that illustrate the difference between a good Super Bowl ad and a great one.

Adweek asked a wide range of industry veterans to share the Super Bowl ads they feel inspired them—and their industry—to do better work.

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