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Original articles from Aaron Whitaker.
Food PR: The Rift Between Consumers’ Perceptions and Science
Conflicting sources of information about food and nutrition and confusing label claims make it difficult for families to navigate grocery aisles around the world according to a new global survey sponsored by the Enough Movement. Key findings showed that people across the globe care about what goes in their food...

The Washington Post Cuts Off Ad Tech Vendors Slowing Its Site
It’s hard for publishers to say no to vendors that advertisers want to work with. But in its effort to speed up advertising, The Washington Post has had to rethink its use of vendors. As the Post has built on its own proprietary ad products, it has cut out several of the ad servers, ad builders, native-ad and video vendors it used to work with.

With ‘Forces of Destiny,’ Hasbro Makes Its Biggest Push Yet Towards Female-Skewing Star Wars Toys
Though the trend nowadays is to advocate for non-gendering toy categories, there are still some overall generalities that can be made about character-based figures from the major toy companies. If its detail is all sculpted and fires a spring-loaded missile, it’s an action figure aimed at boys. If it has rooted hair and cloth clothes, it’s a doll aimed at girls. (Yes, there are other gender identifications, but no major toy company is marketing directly to them as yet.)

Twitter Lets Brands Customize Hearts on Periscope
Twitter is adding a new feature to Periscope that will let brands add customized hearts to the live-streaming video app, according to TechCrunch. The new branded images will randomly pop up alongside the regular multi-colored hearts that appear on the side as viewers tap the usual “like” button on the side of the screen.

Omnicom Officially Launches 'Unlimited,' Its Dedicated McDonald’s Agency
The Golden Arches are officially getting personal attention as of today. Omnicom has officially launched "We Are Unlimited," the name of its full-service agency dedicated to handling McDonald's US advertising business. The launch comes nearly three months after McDonald's chose Omnicom to handle its creative account in the US following a months-long review...

How NASCAR is Using Social Media to Connect with Millennial Fans
NASCAR drivers competing in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will display their personal Twitter handles on their respective car windshields during the first three-race round of #TheChase, NASCAR and Twitter. That coupled with the five-part digital action-film series, which will live on NASCAR.com...

‘We’re Not Selling Ads’: Adblock Plus Responds to Backlash About Its Acceptable Ads Platform
Yesterday, Adblock Plus announced it was launching an ad network called the Acceptable Ad Exchange. The Wall Street Journal reported that Adblock Plus had partnered with Google, AppNexus, and ComboTag on the network, and that they’d all split the revenue. The response from some in the publishing world was swift, angry, and confused. How was the world’s largest ad blocker launching an ad network—and why were advertising giants like Google and AppNexus working with it? The story only got weirder as Google and AppNexus denied any involvement.

How This Agency Built a Viral YouTube Channel From Rejected Ideas
At some agencies, rejected ideas get scrapped and disappear for good. At Denizen, they’re used to make viral videos. Founded in 2008, Denizen had seen its share of success with high-profile campaigns for Pepsi, HTC, and Disney (Johnny Depp even joined in on that last one). But content creators were still frustrated when ambitious pitches were turned down for being too risky.

How Thrillist Created a Cider Ad That Got 54 Million Views in Two Days on Facebook
People on Facebook are going crazy over a video of an “elderly” man lifting massively heavy weights at meathead haven Muscle Beach in Southern California. The three-and-a-half minute video has collected 54 million views since being posted Tuesday, with half of the viewership occurring within the first 24 hours. It’s also an ad.

Instagram Will Now Let You Make 60-Second Videos
Video lovers rejoice: Instagram will now let regular users post 60 second clips. Previously, you could only post 15 second pieces. The extended length reflects Instagram's increasing emphasis on video and makes it a much more competitive platform to video juggernaut YouTube. Last month, the app started favoring the number of views a video gets, instead of its number of likes.

The Lost Art of Writing and Its Impact on Public Relations
We've all been writing from an early age, starting with thick pencils and writing tablets that later gave way to word processors and computers. But as technology has made the mechanical process of writing much easier, something entirely different has happened to writing itself.

A Shout Out to Billboard Advertising
It seems in today’s world, the buzz in advertising and marketing and life seems to be about digital. Everyone wants to advertise and market on the Web. Businesses want a blog and a Facebook page and they want to tweet to their customers.

The Changing Faces of American Consumers
With the election last week, there’s been a lot of talk from conservative pundits about what went wrong. While the excuses and reasons are diverse, there is one reason for losing that many pundits have come to agree on and that is that America is changing.

You’re Too Late…Christmas Already Started
It seems like every year, the Christmas or holiday shopping season starts earlier and earlier. While most people would guess that it starts the day after Thanksgiving, aka “Black Friday,” it’s actually started much earlier this year. So if you or your clients haven’t kicked off your holiday marketing and advertising plan, you may want to hurry up before you’re left in the dust.

How Does Your Brand Look Online?
With the recent launch of the iPhone 5, along with launches and news of new tablets from Google and Microsoft, among others, now is a good time to take a look at your brand’s website. If you’re disappointed in the look of it from an iPad or smartphone or netbook, then you may want to give your site a facelift.

What’s the Standard?
All brands are held to a standard. There are certain unsaid but definitely known levels that are approved by customers and others that are simply unacceptable. These standards vary from industry to industry as expected. However, brands must also understand their own unique standards and what customers will allow from them. There are no hard and fast rules.

Gaming for a Win: Obama Ads in Video Games
If you happen to live in Ohio, Nevada or several other key swing states in this year’s presidential election, I know you’ve been flooded with political ads. There’s no escaping them, as they are practically everywhere you look. And starting soon, they’ll be in places where you didn’t think to look…on your video games.

Are You Ready for Some…
Football? It’s back, it happens every year, and it rarely disappoints its customers. Year after year this brand has to bring its A-game and provide consistency yet excitement in order to sustain future growth. Football “sells” the same product, but the experience is heightened and the promotion is different, so much so that customers rarely drop off year after year. Instead the brand works to push the bounds and ensure that consumers are drawn into the excitement of the brand for six months. It’s all about brand football. Just as expected, it started again this year. The ratings for the brand’s yearly launch were released and football took the top five spaces.

Fab Five Unites Email and Social
Studies show that people who subscribe to emails are more likely to be active on social media, and more importantly, are more likely to buy. So how can you use email to active your social media brand ambassadors? Atlanta based Palas Jewelers has an idea that seems to be working for them. Every day, Palas Jewelers posts a photo of one of their unique pieces of jewelry modeled by the store owner, a customer, or another staffer. The photos are always beautiful and fun and bring in tons of comments.

With Controversy Comes Sales (Sometimes)
Sometimes it’s all about the name of a product or brand. If the name brings controversy and criticism and outcry, then it will ultimately bring sales. But can a name go too far? The answer is yes. The name of a brand or product can go too far. There was a recent story out of India about a clothing store having to change its name because of public outcry.

Campbell’s Soup Celebrates Warhol and Sells Lots of Soup
If you are in the food and drink business and want to sell a lot of your product quickly, limited-edition packaging will usually do it. You usually see the beer and spirits industry roll out limited-edition bottles and cans, but this time it’s Campbell’s Soup.

David Lynch Teams Up With…Dom Pérignon?
I’m a big fan of David Lynch and his work. From Twin Peaks to Blue Velvet to Mulholland Drive, he has a very mysterious, dark, and quirky vision to his movies. His work is definitely an acquired taste that doesn’t appeal to everyone, which is why I found it odd that he teamed up with Dom Pérignon.

Is Direct Mail Facing Extinction?
I remember in the 90’s when people would complain about all the ‘junk mail’ they would get in the mail. Along with their bills and letters from family, there would be a small stack of flyers and ads and other direct mail pieces. It was terrible until the dawn of email and ‘spam’ and now looking back, it doesn’t seem that bad now. So is direct mail dead? Is it dying? Or is it still viable?

Amp Up Your Facebook Fan of the Week Program
Lots of small business owners have started to show\case a “Fan of the Week” to help promote their businesses. The idea is that the featured fan is someone who interacts a lot with the brand and that this person will be so excited to be a fan of the week that they will promote their status on their own Timeline, thus netting new fans for the brand.

Chick-Fil-A Says Too Much!
The President of Chick-Fil-A created a social media firestorm this week when he told a Christian news site that the company does not support same-sex marriage. The company has always been known for its support of Christianity, with the most obvious example being that they are closed on Sundays. But should brands be more wary of taking public stands against politicized issues like gay marriage?

The Magic Word for Viral Marketing is…FREE!
Most of us know about how "Free Shipping" is a great way to attract more customers and increase sales online, but did you know that the word "Free" can be used in other ways to increase traffic and sales? By using the word "Free," you could easily increase traffic and buzz about your site and business in just a few hours' time. It seems like every client wants their marketing and ad firm to create a viral video or make their ads go viral. Of course, it’s not as easy as pushing a button.

The Rising Temps and Your Brand
It seems like it’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen cooler temperatures. I almost welcome 90-degree weather now with the mercury pushing 100 for what seems like eternity but is more like four or five days. With these ridiculous temperatures sweeping most of the country, I start thinking about advertising and marketing and whether most companies adjust their messages.

Millions of Ad Dollars Ride on Supreme Court Decision
Actually, it’s not millions, but billions of dollars that are riding on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act. According to Brian Wieser, Senior Analyst at Pivotal Research, $2.5 billion dollars in marketing and ad spending are riding on the Supreme Court upholding the current law. If the Affordable Care Act is upheld, millions of Americans will be required to get insurance.

Living Up To The Hype? – The MS Surface Unveiling
If you’re into new technology, then you’ve probably been hearing and reading about all the hype and rumors leading up to Microsoft’s secret press conference yesterday. With all the chatter on social media, blogs, websites, and other media channels, I was anxious to see what they unveiled. But did what they unveil live up to all the hype or was it a big letdown?

Opt In versus Opt Out: The Science of Participation
When it comes to brands extending their messages, many have newsletters, weekly deals, or other incentives for customers and fans to opt in to. But if you’ve been in the business long enough, you soon realize that a low percentage of people end up opting in to your newsletter or deals or updates. So what if you turn the tables and have your customers opt out rather than opting in?

Advertising to the Fourteen-Year-Old Boy
My son just turned fourteen about a month ago and if I want to talk to him, I know where he will be. He will either be in front of the family room TV in front of the family room computer. The only other place I ever find him is in his bed sleeping, but during the day I do believe he is seriously glued to either the TV or the computer.

Women Love Words. Men Love Pictures.
As I was driving into work today, the news was reporting on the hot sales of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Apparently, the books are selling like wildfire with around 800,000 being sold every day throughout the world. They are the talk of the town, or at least half of the town, as the fans are predominantly women. These "explicit novels," as they are known, seem to have filled a void.

Did GM Cost Facebook Billions of Dollars?
It’s been two days since Facebook launched their IPO and in that two days they’ve lost billions as their stock went from $38 to around $34 at the end of day two. If you count the fact that they opened to the public at $42, then they’ve lost even more billions in just two days. So what went wrong? Was it GM announcing days before the launch that they were pulling their ad buys on Facebook?

Comcast Punishes DVR Ad Skippers with…Ads
According to FierceCable, Comcast recently filed a patent for technology that would show targeted ads to viewers who skip commercials while watching shows recorded on their DVRs. While this won’t make viewers very happy, it could make Comcast very happy with a new advertising revenue stream.

Apple Isn’t Perfect
Just this past week, a video surfaced that Apple did around the same time as their popular ‘1984’ spot came out. I was kind of excited to see it as I was curious to see how great it was. I mean, if it came out at the same time as ‘1984,’ it had to be a great video. After viewing just a short clip of ‘1944,’ I left disappointed.

The Best Marketing Tool is Also One of the Least Used
If you’re a business or agency, you’ve probably tried many different advertising and marketing tools to reach your customers. You’ve probably spent lots of money on billboards, radio spots, TV commercials, print ads, Internet banners, CPC ads, direct mail, email marketing, social media marketing, and more. And while you’ve probably found some success, you’re probably still in search of that perfect marketing and advertising tool. While you may think you’ve tried it all, there is one more tool that is very effective.

Arby’s Shows Us What To Do & Not To Do on Twitter
If you check out the Twitter feed for Arby’s at @arbys, you’ll most likely see a good example of how to use Twitter as a company. Most of Arby’s tweets are replies to customers who are eating there and tweet about it. I’ve always felt this was a great way for many businesses to utilize Twitter by replying and conversing with their customers. But if you do a Google search for "Arby's" and "Twitter," you’ll probably soon discover the mistakes that Arby’s has made on Twitter.

’The Pitch’ and Why So Many Agencies Bowed Out
I just watched the sneak preview of ‘The Pitch’ last night on AMC after the critically acclaimed ‘Mad Men.’ ‘The Pitch’ is a reality TV show that records two agencies pitching for new business. The first episode features the client Subway and the agencies WDCW and McKinney as the competing agencies. As a creative, I actually enjoyed the show.

I’ve Got a Feeling
“The product doesn’t make the story, it complements the story.” That’s the line that kept going through my head last night when I was thinking about successful brands and how it’s less about the features and benefits of the product or brand and more about the feeling it evokes from the customer. The brands that I like and that I’m interested in are the ones who tap into my feelings and my right brain as opposed to my left brain. Whether it’s a cola or a shirt or a cell phone, they complement my life as opposed to driving it. Granted, I care about features and benefits, but in the end, it’s the feeling that the brand evokes within me that will convert me from a shopper into a buyer.

How to Advertise on Pinterest Without Using Pinterest
If you haven’t heard about Pinterest yet then you probably live under a rock. And if you aren’t on Pinterest, then you’re most likely a guy, as there are more women on Pinterest than men. With visitor traffic up 145 percent since the beginning of the year and close to 12 million users, Pinterest is the hot new social media site.

Live Más or Live With Más Money?
First of all, I think the new Taco Bell slogan “Live Más” is a good change. ‘Think Outside the Bun” was a good slogan but with the increase in healthy alternatives to ‘bun’ food elsewhere, it was time for a change. While the slogan is great, I do question the most recent spot featuring the Doritos Locos Tacos. I’m sure the tacos are great and I can see how doing some cross-branding with Doritos is a great move.

'I Want That!'
When I’m watching TV with my four-year-old daughter, I am no longer in charge of the remote. I have to watch her shows or experience the crying wrath of a little one determined to get her way. So, every day when I sit down and watch TV with my daughter, we watch cartoons and kid shows.


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