Archive for March, 2014
This winter has been straight up Game of Thrones. It’s been dark, cold and full of snowy terrors. Thankfully spring has officially arrived and although it’s still pretty frosty out there, the sights and sounds of major league athletes preparing for the 2014 season is enough to make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
Seriously, it’s called “spring training.” Even if you aren’t a fan of baseball (or training for that matter), you’re still pretty stoked about the spring part.
With only a few days remaining before Opening Week, there are already headlines aplenty. Can the Yankees bounce back? Will the Red Sox repeat? Can the Nationals live up to expectations? Will Miguel Cabrera win ANOTHER MVP!?
Many of these questions will be answered in the coming months as spring gives way to the dog days of summer, and summer to the excitement of October. This is a fresh start, a clean slate…a blank page, as they say. Yet as we know, time tends to fly when you’re having fun and moments are fleeting, especially when it comes to baseball.
Last year we closed the book on a legendary career as Mariano Rivera took his final bow. The outpouring of appreciation for the best closer in baseball history was apparent as night after night fans took to their feet and applauded the man they call “Mo.” This year, a similar farewell tour will commence in ballparks across America as the grand old game will offer its final sendoff to its most respected and adored superstar. You know who I’m talking about:
That’s right, “The Captain” will play his final season in 2014 and trust me, you won’t want to miss a single swing of the bat.
Well, now that I’ve set the stage and we’re all properly excited, there’s really only one thing left to say:
If you follow the news in tech, finance or pretty much anything else on the Internet chances are you’ve heard a relatively new term being batted around: bitcoin. While not actually that new, the term burst into the national consciousness in 2013 and so far in 2014 has been trending alongside the polar vortex, MH370 and various Russian antics. Here is a quick 101 on what you need to know and what you can expect from the amorphous alt-currency world this year and beyond.
So bitcoin. What is it?
Simply put, ‘bitcoin’ is a peer-to-peer digital currency. It is made up of a web-based line of code “mined” from an increasingly difficult to solve mathematical riddle — that’s how it maintains its scarcity and therefore its value. Bitcoin was invented by an anonymous hacker and because no federal government or central bank controls it, the currency changes hands anonymously and crosses borders easily. Naturally, it was quickly adopted as a black market currency. Today though, bitcoin is an increasingly legitimate and rapidly changing ecosystem of technologies, exchanges, VCs, vendors and customers.
What’s the difference between bitcoin and Bitcoin?
Great question! bitcoin (lowercase b) refers to the currency itself, while Bitcoin (capital B) is the largest, most well-known service used to buy, sell, exchange and retain bitcoins (lowercase b) via digital “wallets.”
This sounds awesome, I want to go buy some right now.
Not so fast. Because it’s backed strictly by the market (rather than gold, a central bank or an agency like the FDIC), the currency is notoriously volatile, giving many would-be investors pause. Just this year the exchange rate has fluctuated anywhere between $80 and $1,200. Compounding the issue is susceptibility to security flaws: the late Mt. Gox, once the world’s largest exchange, recently collapsed due to hacker meddling and mismanagement. So buyer beware.
Yeah, pump the brakes.
So how will it affect me?
Bitcoin ATMs are already popping up in major cities, and the currency has even begun to creep into many mainstream vendors, including Home Depot, CVS and Amazon. The Sacramento Kings recently became the first professional sports franchise to accept the currency, and one has to assume the forthcoming Levi’s Stadium in San Francisco will soon be on board as well. Bitcoin also bodes well for any brand with an interest in e-commerce; continued innovation of payment systems is rapidly reducing precious time spent at the point of sale. If you’re a believer, you can use bitcoin for most of your day-to-day purchases right now.
But why would I want to?
Fair question; and the truth is, many people will not. Right now bitcoin is most attractive as an investment opportunity- a way to make a quick buck betting on the wild swings back and forth. But as things stabilize many see virtual currency as the way forward for payment systems. Picture this: you are in your seat at a Kings game, and want some nachos. Soon you will be able to place the order from your smartphone and have it brought to you without ever exchanging cash or a credit card, even in the nosebleeds.
I already do that with Uber!
Yes you do- but you pay with a standard credit card. While you see no difference, bitcoin vendors like Bitpay are charging flat fees to merchants, rather than the standard credit card percentage. Lower fees mean higher margins for merchants, which means the roster of bitcoin-friendly businesses will continue to grow.
Ok, fair enough. What’s next?
Tough to say. Mt. Gox was a major black eye for supporters, but the momentum is tough to deny. Even NASCAR is getting in on the action; Bitcoin competitor Dogecoin (yes, that doge) has signed on as an official sponsor and will be featured this spring at Talladega on Josh Wise’s no. 98 Ford.
Long story short, the bitcoin world will look very different 5 years or even 1 year from now, but whatever it looks like it’s definitely not going anywhere. Though it has some major detractors (Warren Buffet and essentially every federal government in the world, to name a few) and flaws, enthusiasm is only building and savvy techies like Marc Andreessen, the Winklevoss twins and others with a vested interest are going to make sure it succeeds. When is anyone’s guess, but bitcoin will become a major player for consumers, marketers and brands alike.
On March 12, MKTG INC produced a stunning event at New York’s Eleven Madison restaurant in honor of Tanqueray No. TEN’s new bottle and relaunch. In the midst of a chilly March evening we brought the brand to life by turning this classic New York venue into an Art Deco garden soiree.
Rachel Ford, MKTG INC’s Tanqueray East Coast Ambassador, wrote over 100 hand-written invitations to the trade to help drive outstanding attendance. Her efforts, along with Lush Life’s PR push, drew 380 press, trade and influencers into the new TEN brand world, exceeding our attendance goal by 65%.
Drinks industry professionals from 90 top New York accounts, including Dead Rabbit, Extra Fancy, Pegu Club, Pouring Ribbons, The NoMad and Death & Co., were in attendance, as well as media presence from Bon Appetit, Vanity Fair, Town & Country, GQ, Details and Esquire.
The night began with a VIP dinner hosted by Tanqueray Master Distiller Tom Nichol, and attended by drinks-world luminaries like David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, Jim Meehan and editors from GQ, Details and Cool Hunting among others.
The Mingus Big Band set the tone in the main dining room, where guests swayed to 20s-era jazz classics and sipped on Tanqueray No. TEN cocktails, created especially for the launch by renowned bartender Leo Robitschek. The photo-friendly décor amplified the event beyond the walls of Eleven Madison Park with almost 150 MM impressions via Instagram on the evening of the party alone.
A fantastic night was had by all, including the elated Tanqueray Marketing Team, and Diageo CMO Peter McDonough.
Thanks to MKTG INC, the love of my life and I got to experience something we’ve only dreamed about: a weekend in Napa Valley! California got its yearly dose of rain the weekend we decided to go, however, it gave the valley a sort of mystique that my fiancé described as “something out of a fairy tale.” Despite the conditions, we wined and dined our way through one of the best wine regions in the world.
On Saturday we journeyed up near St. Helena to Sterling early in the morning. The winery was absolutely breathtaking and because of the rain we practically had the place to ourselves. The scenery was beautiful and the wines even better. On our way to Provenance for the afternoon’s tour, we stopped in Yountville to sample some of Michael Chiarello’s Napa-style cuisine. It was a great lunch and gave us the fuel to taste some spectacular offerings from Provenance and Hewitt. The night was capped off at Morimoto’s restaurant in Napa, where the food and drink live up to his Iron Chef status.
Although we found ourselves in B.V.’s tasting room bright and early on Sunday, no time is too early to start pouring the Clones and Georges De Latour! After they wined us, it was time to dine us at what was to become the best meal of the trip, Thomas Keller’s Bouchon! The wine, food and pastries were exquisite and left us in a state of food/drink euphoria. As we were driving out of the valley back to reality, we vowed to return again as soon as possible.
Thanks again to MKTG INC — it was a great way to celebrate our recent engagement and was an experience we will never forget!
Crown Royal sponsored three parties at The Metropolitan nightclub, where celebrities from the entertainment, sports and fashion industries Reigned On all weekend long. To kick off the star-studded events, Crown Royal partnered with Kenny Smith to host his annual Mardi Gras All Star Bash. Kenny entered the party with a traditional New Orleans-style marching band, including stilt walkers. He proceeded to drink Crown Royal XO (responsibly, of course) with all his buddies in their XO-themed VIP section. Nick Cannon took over the ones and twos halfway through the party and provided tunes for the roughly 1500 guests in attendance. Shaquille O’Neal, Charles Barkley, Flo Rida, D.L Hughley, P Diddy, Grant Hill, Damaris Lewis, Romeo Miller and many others showed up to wish Kenny a happy birthday at his All Star Bash.
On Saturday, Crown Royal sponsored two parties – a day party with Terrance J and the cast of Love and Hip Hop, and a night party with Kevin Hart. Biz Markie was the DJ for the evening and Terrance J, Fabolous, NFL Saints and a bunch of basketball players were in attendance.
To round out the weekend, Robert Sickler, Master of Whisky, lead a Crown Royal tasting with media. Towards the end of the tasting Julius Erving (AKA Dr. J) made a surprise appearance for a Q&A and photo opportunity.
The MKTG INC Cincinnati office added another silver ADDY to its collection at the local ADDY Awards hosted by the American Advertising Federation on February 22.
Bilingual Copywriter Extraordinaire Belinda Chavez-Imwalle and Fancy-Pants Digital Art Director Julie Wilson were the creative cojones behind the Charmin Basic campaign—the first community-based social media campaign for US Hispanic (USH) consumers at P&G. The custom offline component claimed the silver ADDY in the Direct Marketing, 3D Mailer category.
“This was such a fun, disruptive piece and it’s great to see this Orgullosa team’s work recognized. It is just one example of the fantastic work they have been doing to help truly grow and delight the Orgullosa community,” said V.P. of Creative Paulette Yarosz.
On the outside, the winning piece posed the question “¿Ya no aguantas?,” which roughly translates in English to “Can’t stand it/hold it any longer?” On the inside, it touted the high quality and low cost of Charmin Basic toilet paper, housed a FREE roll of the product and expanded to reveal three coupons and additional messaging. The pink and orange custom mailer was delivered to the doorsteps of 20,000 members of Orgullosa.com, P&G’s online word-of-mouth community for Latinas living in the U.S.
The mailer was only one piece of an integrated effort that included an online microsite with product information and reviews. The site garnered 3,929 reviews and saw a 97% increase in posts about Charmin Basic, helping the brand build buzz with USH consumers.
The MKTG INC team has helped the Orgullosa community grow to more than 110,000 members (from 3,600 members one year ago) and 650,000 likes on Facebook.
On our third leg of a four-city tour, House of Walker passes through the trendy streets of Miami, FL and inspires consumers to KEEP WALKING. Over 14 nights, 2,100 guests were invited into the House of Walker to experience the worlds leading Scotch whisky. These guests enjoyed Johnnie Walker whisky in an interactive and upscale setting while they discovered the brand’s pioneering spirit. Each night, the House of Walker featured a special guest as we celebrated influencers who are taking their “next step.”
During a Q&A session of the evening lead by Master of Whisky, Stephen Wilson each spotlighted guest shared personal stories of how they are inspired to keep walking on their journey, as John Walker did in his exploration with whisky. The House hosted many talented guest but a few who stuck out included Jason Hardi, pioneer of the innovative smart headphone, Muzik; Alexander Mijares, one of South Florida’s most vibrant and promising artists; and musician, broadcaster, and digital media influencer, Derrick N. Ashong.
The House of Walker also brought to life nearly 200 years of monumental moments in the brand’s history by showcasing the craft blend, the brand’s globalization and the innovation of the bottle design.
If you were not lucky enough to experience the House of Walker in Miami, don’t fear, as we will take our next step on the tour to sunny Venice Beach, CA from March 26th – April 19th. We hope to see you there. Cheers and KEEP WALKING.
How the power of social media – and a little city vs. city rivalry – led Jimmy Fallon to take an icy swim in Lake Michigan.
It started out as a friendly question posed to new Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon during an interview with a Chicago newspaper: “Would you ever have (Chicago Mayor) Rahm Emanuel as a guest on your show?” The always friendly Fallon said something to the effect of, “He can host if he wants to. I’m kind of scared of that guy.”
Now, Chicago has always been known for tough politicians. The nickname “Windy City” has nothing to do with weather – the term was actually coined to describe the back-handed, often shifty political climate. So Chicagoans – like their politicians – are tough, and they’re always quick to stand up for the city, especially when a comparison to New York arises.
The mayor’s response to Fallon was a simple tweet: “Thx for the invite @jimmyfallon. You should toughen up for the big leagues. Do the Chicago Polar Plunge with me and I’ll join @FallonTonight.” The Polar Plunge was taking place on March 2 to benefit the Special Olympics, and Fallon was invited.
And that’s when the Twitterverse took over. Hashtags like #JimmyPlungeWithUs and #SwimmyFallon came from Chicago celebrities, media and athletes. They taunted him. They challenged him. They flooded Fallon’s personal and Tonight Show Twitter feeds. Media began to ask if he would man up and jump into Lake Michigan. Giordano’s offered him free pizza after he finished.
As a man who has used to social media to connect with a demographic better than any Tonight Show host in history, Fallon understands the power of the medium. And just a few days after the banter began, it ended when Fallon delivered one last tweet:
Chicago rejoiced at its moral victory, and the Special Olympics celebrated a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for global TV exposure. I saw it as a tremendous example of the dynamic and powerful influence of social media. (Later that night, Oscars host Ellen DeGeneres caused a temporary shutdown of Twitter after taking and sharing the ultimate celebrity selfie.) So those of you who wonder if Twitter’s here to stay should probably learn the language of 140 characters.
As for Fallon? He plunged.
Captain Morgan and Sports Illustrated took their talents to South Beach for two days to celebrate the SI Swimsuit Edition’s 50th Anniversary. The 2014 cover girls Nina Agdal, Chrissy Teigen and Lily Aldridge joined the Captain at the Fontainebleau pool for some Captain Morgan White Rum cocktails along with 20+ SI Swimsuit alumni and rookies. The night ended at the Crown XO party hosted by the SI girls and Richard Sherman at LIV nightclub featuring a performance by Flo Rida. The next day the Captain was cheering on the models during a chefs vs models charity beach volleyball tournament featuring famous chefs such as Michael Symon, Tim Love, Spike Mendelsohn and Jeff Mauro. The biggest winner was the Armed Forces Foundation, who received $20,000 that was raised from the event. Although the Captain looks as though he made out just fine too.