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Los Angeles, UNITED STATES: Winner of Best Rap Song and Best Rap Album Ludacris poses with one of his trophies in front of the Grammy logo at the 49th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles 11 February 2007. AFP PHOTO/Gabriel BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)

TODD SMITH — Brands belted out music during Grammys


Along with Beyonce, Adele, Bruno Mars and other artists, brands also took the stage at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards ceremony last week, updating classic songs, dipping into their own roots or using the occasion to assert current-day corporate citizenship principles.

Set against a jazzy soundtrack and Alicia Keys singing “A Change is Gonna Come,” Nike‘s spoken word “Equality” ad was one of the most-buzzed-about of the Grammy Awards ceremony telecast, passing 1.6 million views within 11 hours of being posted on YouTube.

The campaign promotes the brand’s new corporate citizenship platform, highlighting the power of sports (and Nike athletes including LeBron James and Serena Williams) to promote equality. The messaging “encourages people to take the fairness and respect they see in sport and translate them off the field” and highlights new not-for-profit partners (PeacePlayers International and MENTOR) to take action (more in the behind-the-scenes video).

Lincoln debuted a new Continental TV ad featuring contemporary Texas blues musician Gary Clark Jr. performing “The Healing” with a custom-made amplifier (by Ben Fargen) that reflects features of the 2017 Lincoln Continental. (More in the behind-the-scenes video.)

Apple released a trailer for Carpool Karaoke: The Series, with Grammys host James Corden promoting the upcoming long form version of his popular late night TV segment. Another spot promoted the Apple Watch Series 2 while another ad was a lyrical ode to iPhone 7’s camera capabilities.

Google promoted its Pixel phone with a montage of musicians’ covers of “Nothing Compares 2 U” following the Bruno Mars tribute to Prince, whose catalog just arrived on streaming services.

Target bought airtime for an update on the classic 1988 hip-hop hit “It Takes Two” by Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock by Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen and American rapper Lil Yachty. The three-minute ad was produced by Mike WiLL Made-It, choreographed by Mandy Moore and directed by Roman Coppola (more in the behind-the-scenes here):

Gap also updated an old school tune – “All For Love” by Color Me Badd – to promote its limited edition dive into its archives with the Generation Gap collection and the offspring of its 90’s ad stars including Demi Moore’s daughter Rumer Willis, Steve Tyler’s daughter Chelsea and Mick Jagger’s daughter Lizzy:

Adidas Originals continued its retro update series, putting a modern twist on “My Way” by Frank Sinatra in a campaign titled “Original is never finished” (tagline: “True creativity is never finished”) with remixes by Snoop Dogg and also Desiigner and MadeInTYO:

The campaign “features visionaries from the worlds of music, art, skate, and sport. Reaffirming the notion original is never finished, the film features a remix of the iconic song, “My Way” by Frank Sinatra with a provocative approach to today’s streetwear culture. adidas Originals turns to the new generation of creators to inspire them to redefine their meaning of originality. ‘Original is Never Finished’ film explores this idea that driving culture forward can recreate the idea of what is truly original.

Referencing the legendary album, Doggystyle, the adidas recreates a trippy chase scene through Snoop Dogg’s debut album cover. In an ode to the history of film and hip hop videos from the 90s, the video transitions from VHS to HD footage as the dog runs away from the dog catcher. Finally revealing that the dog is in fact the real D O G G.

Other brand music high notes:

» Hilton introduced the #MusicHappensHere campaign.

» Johnnie Walker ran this cover of “This Land Is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie, as performed by Los Angeles band Chicano Batman.

» Starbucks ran its already-released “A Year of Good” look back at 2016.

» Mastercard ran the Masterpass #ThankTheFans campaign.

» Oreo ran its Christina Aguilera spot for the Oreo Dunk wonderfilled sweepstakes campaign.

Fabricated news advanced on McDonalds, Chipotle

After all the talk about fake news, this one could be called a fake merger.

In what appeared to be an attempt to generate coverage at the expense of the truth, USA TODAY and at least one other news outlet received an apparently fraudulent news release last week that said McDonald’s would submit an unsolicited bid to acquire fast-casual chain Chipotle Mexican Grill.

“This is completely fabricated,” McDonald’s spokesperson Terri Hickey said in an email. “It is not our press release and there is no truth to its claim.”

Formatted convincingly, the dubious release used business language, mirrored the typical structure of a corporate merger announcement and was portrayed as a filing to be submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission later this month.

It even quoted McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook as justifying the bid by emphasizing Chipotle’s recent struggles. The terms, the release said, was for $570 per share, or $16.4 billion.

The episode demonstrates that phony information can appear convincing and requires that anyone consuming it use extra scrutiny to evaluate incoming material.

McDonald’s formerly owned Chipotle before spinning it off in 2006. Chipotle has been ailing since a health crisis at some of its restaurants spawned concerns among some consumers about its food, while McDonald’s has been seeking new avenues of growth.

Super Bowl advertisers score big on social media audience

In the aftermath of Super Bowl LI many advertisers scored big on expanding their social media reach. By that measure, the leader is clear: 84 Lumber, the building-supplies marketer that spent an estimated $15 million on a 90-second ad that drove viewers online to see the conclusion.

That’s according to ListenFirst Media, which calculated the change in the advertisers’ social-media followings after the game, considering both the absolute gain and rise relative to the starting point.

A far more established brand, Coca-Cola, came in second despite running an ad in the Super Bowl that had already been on the air. Here’s the Top 10 Social Media Super Bowl Brands, according to ListenFirst Media:

1. 84 Lumber

2. Coca-Cola

3. AirBnB

4. KFC

5. Google

6. Nintendo

7. Pepsi

8. Budweiser

9. Intel

10. Audi

Pepperoni Mic | Little Caesar founder tossed branding to new levels with ‘Pizza Pizza” tagline

He launched a worldwide restaurant empire whose “pizza, pizza” catchphrase became world famous – and one of the hottest brands in a generation. Mike Ilitch, Little Caesars founder and owner of the Detroit Tigers and the Detroit Red Wings – who died last week at age 87.

Ilitch and his wife opened his first Little Caesars restaurant in Garden City, Mich., in 1959, after squirreling away savings from a job as a door-to-door salesman. The restaurant spawned a business empire that posted $3.4 billion in revenue last year, according to the parent company. Forbes clocks Ilitch and his wife’s net worth at $6.1 billion.

Ilitch’s mark on his home city includes huge investment and development projects, highlighted by the Little Caesars Arena, which is scheduled to open later this year as the new home of the Detroit Red Wings. Ilitch and his wife also have given tens of millions of dollars to Detroit’s Wayne State University to establish a new business school that bears his name.

Despite all his success, he will be forever remembered as the man that tossed “pizza pizza” into branding gold!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon. 


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