Skittles goes for Super Bowl buzz without paying for TV; Dikembe Mutombo stars in an ad tech ad

Skittles wants to ‘Broadway the Rainbow’ for Super Bowl

With the teams for Super Bowl LIII decided, the pre-game warm up has already begun, with brands launching teasers for the biggest day in advertising. Skittles’ big game strategy, meanwhile, seems to be built around generating publicity prior to kick-off.  Rather than show an ad during the game, the candy brand is introducing what it’s calling the “first ever commercial performed as a live Broadway musical.”

Entitled “Skittles Commercial: The Broadway Musical,” the play is written by playwright Will Eno, along with DDB. The 17-person cast, led by Michael C. Hall of Six Feet Under fame, will be performed one time only—at New York’s Town Hall at 1 p.m. on game day. On Monday, Skittles dropped this promo video.

Dikembe Mutombo is blocking for CHEQ

Ad verification firm CHEQ, which specializes in brand safety, ad fraud and viewability, has drafted a new chief blocking officer. It’s none other than NBA legend Dikembe Mutombo, who currently ranks second on the NBA’s all-time blocked shots list with 3,289.

The gravel-voiced Mutombo, whose legendary blocking skills were previously showcased in ads for Geico, is appearing in a 40-second spot showing his prowess at all types of blocks—from sun blocks to building blocks to…er…you know, that thing writers get sometimes. Created in-house, the production value isn’t high, but Mutombo’s obvious zeal is pretty charming.

Kraft’s non-political response to a political quagmire

As recent social responsibility efforts by Nike and Gillette have demonstrated, brands open themselves up to criticism and vitriol whenever they stand for something. But Kraft has managed to weighed in on the longest government shutdown in U.S. history with aplomb, by focusing on the personal instead of the political.

In an open letter posted as a full-page ad in The Washington Post this week, the CPG giant pledged its assistance to the 800,000 government workers impacted by the shutdown, and urged other companies to follow its lead. “For us, this isn’t about politics,” the company stated.

Kraft opened the pop-up store “Kraft Now Pay Later” in Washington on Jan. 16, and dispensed free groceries to a few thousand people. It is now extending the opening and inviting other brands to participate. “We’d be happy to make room for your brand,” it stated in the letter. “The need—and extra shelves—are there.”

The company is also accelerating its donation of more than 1 million meals in Kraft products as part of its annual commitment to the charity Feeding America.

Another sign of media money moving in-house

Late last year, Martin Sorrell acquired MightyHive a specialist firm that helps marketers take programmatic ad buying in-house—something that seems to be happening with greater frequency.

Last week, P&G sent shockwaves through the industry when it announced it was taking more of its media buying in-house. And on Tuesday the Wall Street Journal reported that Corp—a firm that helps brands build their own in-house digital ad buying capabilities—had secured $15 million in new funding, with the business now valued at $77 million.

It’s a relatively small number as far as VC investments go, but as a signal of where much of the media industry is going, it’s a big deal. Particularly since, as the WSJ noted, funding in ad tech seemed to be drying up toward the end of 2018 following the frenzy of the past few years (the mind-boggling array of middlemen that has sprung up between advertiser and publisher over the years is best represented by this chart).

The drumbeat of concern about the programmatic ad buying ecosystem is only growing louder, and marketers are moving to regain control. Watch for much more of this in the months ahead.

Today in online privacy missteps…

Google has been fined €50 million by the French privacy regulator for violating the GDPR after failing to secure enough user consent to capture data for targeted ads. While it isn’t a big number (especially for Google), it’s being interpreted as another important signal about where the industry is going, or at least where European regulators want it to go.

“This decision goes way beyond Google. Indeed, companies like Facebook, Amazon, but also any companies with a similar business model based on the processing of personal data for targeted advertising could be sanctioned to high fines in the near future,” Sonia Cissé, a managing associate at London-based law firm Linklaters, told the Independent.

Ranking the world’s most valuable brands

RBC is Canada’s most valuable brand, with a value of US$13.8 billion (all figures in US dollars) according to a fascinating new infographic prepared by

The infographic uses data sourced from Brand Finance’s Global 500 study of the world’s most valuable brands, which is derived from a combination of the hard dollar value of a company’s assets, plus trademarks, patents and goodwill.

Amazon, which surpassed Apple as the most valuable brand in the U.S. in the past year, is also the world’s most valuable brand with a value of $150.8 billion. The second most valuable brand in the world is South Korea’s Samsung, at $92.3 billion, followed by the Chinese banking brand ICBC at US$59.2 billion.

Germany’s most valuable brand is Mercedes-Benz ($43.9 billion), while Toyota ($43.7) billion is Japan’s most valuable. You can find a more an in-depth analysis of the results here and here.






David Brown