Bada Bing! HBO Celebrates the Sopranos By Giving Brands Show-Inspired Nicknames

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking HBO show, the network decided to have a little fun and give brands who asked for them Sopranos-style nicknames only Tony could love.  

Image result for sopranos gifs

Via AdWeek:

HBO’s Twitter account today has been having a blast coming up with Sopranos-inspired nicknames for just about anyone who wants one, especially if it’s a brand or celeb with a decent-sized following.

Brainstormed in real-time by the in-house HBO Digital team alongside creatives from agency Engine, the nickname thread quickly became one of the most entertaining ways to spend your Thursday afternoon.

Obviously Wendy’s, queen of the Twitter cool kids, wanted in on the action:


A day on Twitter without Lin-Manuel Miranda is like a day without content, so clearly he needed to be a part of this moment—especially given his Sopranos cameo before Hamilton made him a household name.

Fresh off his stellar comeback via advertising, Macaulay Culkin got a perfect nickname from his Home Alone days:

You know what they say about Olive Garden. When you’re there, you’re…

Poor Jack Dorsey. He just wants to have some fun on his own platform, but even HBO can’t let him forget the global chorus of users asking for an “edit tweet” button. He seems to have taken it in stride, though, changing his display name to “Jackie No Edits.”

Personally, I probably laughed the hardest at this one for HBO’s own svp of digital and social, Sabrina Caluori:


Can you even call it an HBO party until Game of Thrones rides in on dragonback?

Why Its Hot: Brands playing with other brands in a cheeky continue to viral success.  Social media is about human interaction and tapping into emotions whether that be humor or outright snark (see Wendy’s).  If brands want to be on social media, they have to work to use the platforms like their consumers do.  Engaging other brands is an easy way to show a brand’s sense of humor…when done well.  HBO did a good job here, but when it comes to brands killing it on social media Wendy’s still holds the crown and no one is taking that away any time soon.


Hyundai debuted a concept of an electric walking car at CES 2019.The vehicle is designed with “six degrees of freedom” enabled by “legs” and “joints.”

According to Hyundai the car can “climb a five foot wall, step over a five foot gap, walk over diverse terrain, and achieve a 15 foot wide track width, all while keeping its body and passengers completely level.”

The concept comes from Hyundai Cradle, the carmaker’s venture arm that invests and partners with innovative startups. For this concept they partnered with Detroit-based design firm Sundberg-Ferar.

Image result for hyundai walking car

Image result for hyundai walking car

Why it’s hot: Hyundai wants the car to be the future of disaster response, especially when rescue might involve navigating debris fields, as well as a resource for people living with disabilities and other day-to-day scenarios.


Amazon’s Free Sample Ad Strategy

Amazon is testing a program that partners with brands like Maybelline and Folgers to send free samples to potential buyers through Amazon’s delivery service – all based on what they know you’re likely to buy. 

While most of Amazon’s $5 billion ad revenue comes through targeted ads online, the company believes combining the free sample approach with customer data will provide “a higher conversion than display ads.” Analysts also predict the samples will create opportunities for Amazon to sell more of its own packaged goods and products.

How it works: the program uses machine learning based on Amazon’s customer data, samples of new products are selected and sent to certain customers. It will allow brands to put their products in the hands of the right customers and drive product awareness and conversion.

While some test subjects were perplexed after receiving targeted samples, a recent survey of 1.5k individuals found that only 33% were wary of their data being shared with 3rd parties. And with more than 100M Prime services subscribers, analysts believe this is a major breakthrough in its efforts to take on Google and Facebook’s ad dominance.

Why it’s hot: Free samples will become the new targeted ads which only strengthens Amazon’s position as a trusted delivery service. Amazon has the data and infrastructure to offer samples which could be even more effective than display ads on Facebook or search ads on Google. This in turn could result in increased revenue for Amazon and increased awareness and conversion for brands.


barclay’s saves you from yourself…

Just a few weeks ago, Barclay’s became the first big bank to give its customers unexpected control over their spending. Via Barclay’s app, you can now “switch off” your debit card so that it can’t be used for five specific types of purchases – gambling, “premium-rate websites and phone lines”, restaurants/pubs/bars, gas, and groceries. Once a type of purchase is switched off, any transaction you try with your card at the relevant type of retailer or business will be automatically declined. The idea is to try and help people manage their spending impulses, and is aimed particularly at those with mental health issues or addictions. But, it can also be used to protect yourself from others trying to make fraudulent charges, if you’re worried about that. Barclay’s says it will do the same for credit cards in the near future.

Why It’s Hot: 

It’s a bold move for a bank to offer its customers a way to not spend their own money, but it’s clearly aimed at helping people. Unexpected, and a great example of putting people over profits and thinking about the customer experience beyond just transacting with the bank itself. It’s only a halfway house, given that the feature is completely within each person’s control. But even the cue of having your card declined and having to go into the app to turn whatever type of purchase back on would likely make someone who can’t help themselves think twice.


Twitter Will Give You a New Way to Stream NBA Games

Starting on February 17th, Twitter will be live streaming NBA games–but only the second half, and only with an isolated view of one player. The interesting premise stems from existing second screen behavior. Instead of competing with fans who will watch the game on TV, Twitter wants to offer an interactive and complimentary experience.

During the first half of the game, fans can tweet to vote for which player they want to see in Twitter’s stream. Then, the “iso-cam” will stream on @NBAonTNT.

If the player selected happens to be benched or fouls out, the view will switch to a camera behind the backboard — still giving viewers a different perspective than what TNT will be airing on TV.

Why It’s Hot

This is a unique way to capitalize on the existing behavior of scrolling social media while watching sports. Twitter is giving people a reason to tune into their live stream to not miss out on the action that only they’ll be able to capture.


Advances to Phone Technology… Finally?

It’s 2019, Why Are We Stuck with Decades Old Tech?

Am I the only one who has wondered how it can be 2019 and fundamental call technology has not changed since the late 1990s. (VOIP was the last real technology and that rolled out to businesses in 1995, gaining widespread adoption a decade later.) Yet, those of us who live on conference calls for a living have remained largely overlooked — creating quite a few problems for workers who need their phones to be, uh, a phone.

Problem #1: The Conference Call Lag

Anyone who’s dialed into a conference call knows how stilted they sound. It’s because everyone’s communication is delayed to broadcast. While it’s not the 7 seconds you get on live radio and t.v., it’s long enough to disrupt the flow of normal conversation. When you don’t have the nonverbal cues you gain from seeing someone, these lags can kill the productivity of a conference call. I hypothesize this is the number one reason people tune out on conference calls — the lag that makes a stilted conversation.

Problem #2: Codes, Codes and More Codes

When we talk about friction in systems, conference codes and leader pins top the list. If you’re calling from your mobile, you need your mobile to see the code. Or if you happen to be lucky enough to have your computer in front of you, the code is usually buried at the bottom of an email, in print that is too fine to read. (Well, maybe that last part just relates to me.)

Problem #3: The Quagmire of Web Conferencing

So you want to host a web call so you can see your colleagues face to face. This will likely be your journey – download the proprietary software onto your computer and make sure it works before the web conference. Then at the time of the web conference, connect via web first, then get a code for the dial in or audio enablement. So. Many. Steps. Sure Google Hangout and Skype make things slightly easier, but they are primarily computer-based also (not mobile).

Relief on the Horizon?

In November of 2018, I posted my quandry about why we still needed conference call dial ins and codes when it seems that we should have advanced past that and one of my friends drew my attention to NetLines. NetLines is essentially an app that turns your smart phone into a conference call, business-doing, productivity machine.


Why It’s Hot

As I mentioned above, phone features of mobile (and other phones) have been ignored for two decades. It’s about time someone brought a lower friction solution to market. I’m just surprised they haven’t gotten more buzz about this.

Google Brings Amusement to CES

Taking event content marketing to another level, Google has built an amusement park style ride to promote its virtual assistant. Showing off their storytelling prowess, they have created a full arc with a beginning, middle, point of tension and end.

They built a two-story building right in the middle of the Las Vegas Convention Center parking lot, and the ride takes up the entire upper floor. From the pre-ride line experience (complete with animatronic Grandma talking with guests in line), to a holding room that uses clever projections to tell a story (Don’t forget the cake for Grandma’s birthday party! Assistant can help!), to the ride itself… it’s just ridiculous. The work and engineering that went into this — and the quality of what they built for something that’ll only be here for a few days — is seriously absurd.


Why it’s hot: Getting noticed at tradeshows is not easy, especially at CES. Finding a creative, wow-factor solution to promoting an otherwise boring-to-demo product can get you the attention your brand is looking for.


Harley’s First Electric Motorcycle

Harley-Davidson announced that it will begin taking preorders for its highly anticipated electric motorcycle, LiveWire, this fall and expects to have them on the road IRL by August.

And, for all you rough-ridin’ traditionalists worried that going electric may strip your street cred, Harley-Davidson released some specs that may bring you peace as you roll into Nazareth and take a load off that fanny.

The LiveWire will rev from 0 to 60 in under 3.5 seconds, can travel 110 city miles on a single charge, and — for those who need that Harley rumble — will reportedly produce a “new signature sound.”

But it isn’t going to be cheap: The LiveWire’s list price starts at almost $30k, which is significantly more expensive than other electric motorcycles poppin’ wheelies into the market today.

For example, Zero (hailed as the “Tesla of motorcycles”), which starts north of $10k and has seen a compounded annual growth rate of about 40% each year since it hit the road in 2006.

The motorcycle industry as a whole has struggled since the recession but, as emission standards change, demand for alternative transportation is expected to increase — hence H-D’s push into EV.

But it’s not just Harley. The moto market as a whole is accelerating, expected to grow nearly 42% by 2021, with around 40m units projected to be sold by 2023.

Why it’s hot?

With a US sales drop of 13.3% and an inability to attract the attention of young customers, Harley decided to add an new layer to its brand identity. Focusing on a environmentally conscience audience they are hoping to replicate the success of Tesla by becoming the manufacturer of the latest “cool” electric vehicle.

Jordanian Airlines ups the sarcasm, succeeds bigly

Royal Jordanian Airlines came up with a campaign ahead of the 2016 election encouraging their Muslim travelers to “Travel to the U.S. While You’re Still Allowed To,” in response to Trump’s proposed travel ban on Muslims. It was just supposed to be a clever ad, but it turned out to be prophetic.

Why It’s Hot

The tag line obviously resonated with a cynical population that probably believed that he would win more than the average American voter. It is truth well told.