Turning Viewers Into Volunteers at CBS

v2vThe Altitude Group couldn’t be more excited about Viewers to Volunteers, the latest initiative from our friends at CBS EcoMedia.

Since 2010, CBS EcoMedia has been bringing its unique public-private partnership advertising model to all CBS platforms. Their newest effort combines elements of viral video watching, social networking and charitable giving.

So how does it work?

Viewers to Volunteers is a “new multi-screen initiative that empowers people to give to a charity of their choice without spending their own money.” It consists of a destination video hub  where visitors can watch videos and read articles that further a good cause and lots of opportunities for social sharing with friends and colleagues.

When viewers watch or share these advertiser-sponsored videos via their smartphones, tablets or computers, they help direct real-life financial contributions to the nation’s most effective nonprofit organizations.

What is perhaps most compelling about this effort is direct and substantive advertiser integration. The program is launching with the support of Toyota dealership associations in its four launch markets: Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Dallas-Fort Worth. (There are plans to roll out V2V nationally with the launch of a mobile app later this spring.)

According to Paul Polizzotto, President and Founder of the division, it’s a unique way for marketers to reach consumers and the issues they care about.“This is a giving platform,” Polizzotto told the Wall Street Journal. “There are no banner ads and no pre-roll on V2V. This is a very different kind of platform.”

As with previous initiatives, CBS is working with some remarkable groups. Eleven of the country’s leading charitable non-profits are serving as launch partners: First Book, Fisher House Foundation, Junior Achievement USA, Kids in Need Foundation, Little Kids Rock, Meals on Wheels America, National Recreation and Park Association, Special Olympics World Games, Starlight Children’s Foundation and Volunteers of America.

We think that this program can be a win-win-win for charities, viewers and advertisers.

“They’re giving our money, but we’re getting what we want as an advertiser, where people are looking at our brand,” Paul Muller, the president of the Tri-State Toyota Dealers Association, told the Wall Street Journal. “Hopefully they’re looking at our brand favorably. In the mean time, we’re doing something that we think is a good thing to do.”



Marketing Lessons from Cadillac’s Reinvention

Last weekend at the Academy Awards, Cadillac debuted a daring commercial fit for the event: a 60 second spot directed by veteran filmmaker Doug Liman featuring a who’s who of innovation: Steve Wozniak, fashion designer Jason Wu, Richard Linklater, Anne Wojcicki and Njeri Riong.

The message: Cadillac isn’t what you think.

In a great piece in AdAge, Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s new Chief Marketing Officer, outlined his radical new plan for the American luxury brand. Step one: stop calling it a luxury brand.

“Firstly, if you need to say that you are luxury, you are not luxury,” Ellinghaus said. “Louis Vuitton does not say they are luxury. They simply are.”

The article covers a series of invaluable marketing lessons, but here are three takeaways.

Show, Don’t Tell

If you need to remind people that you’re a luxury brand, you’re probably not. It’s a common problem in marketing, that when you think about it, makes no sense. If a doctor’s advertisements bragged “went to medical school,” you’d be right to be a little suspicious. If Cadillac said “this isn’t your Grandpa’s car,” you might think they were protesting too much.

“Johan de Nysschen, my boss, and I always say we want to build the first luxury brand that just happens to make cars,” Mr. Ellinghaus said. “That sounds like a joke, but we’re serious about it.”

Cadillac, of course, is a luxury brand, and it’s making a few moves that have worked for similar high-end automakers. The company is taking a few cues, like model names, from European counterparts.

Undersell, Over-Deliver

New Cadillacs, like BMW and Audi, will use numbered names to create a brand hierarchy.  To compete against the BMW 5 or Audi A8, you’ll be seeing the Cadillac CT5 CT6 – but no CT7. By having the numbers top out at 6, Ellinghaus hopes to undersell and over-deliver against similarly numbered competitors.

“If we had called the car CT7, it would have been compared to the 7-series long wheelbase, and it is not that expensive and not that big,” he explained. “And same with CT8: It would have been compared with an Audi A8, and still it is not there.”

Make Art, Tell Stories

Luxury is about image, and nothing purveys luxury like beautiful cinematography. In addition to great aesthetics, great storytelling drives Cadillac’s new commercial. Engaging consumers in a narrative is the best way to get, and retain attention.

Cadillac has some ground to pick up after slipping in sales last year, but with Ellinghaus running the company’s marketing efforts it will undoubtedly be one of this year’s most exciting brands to watch. And marketers would be wise to decipher his playbook, if only to use it for themselves.


Live Events Are a Bright Spot for Radio Revenue

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 9.40.21 PMAn interesting report released by the Radio Advertising Bureau yesterday found that non-traditional revenue from live, off-air events now accounts for one of every ten dollars spent on radio. Live event related business even brought in twice the dollars digital billed last year.

This is exciting news for groups like Altitude which has always seen events as core to our reaching consumers locally.

Erica Farber, the president of the Radio Advertising Bureau told Inside Radio that advertisers see radio as a great way to bring live events to local audiences:

“With radio being closest to purchase, it makes sense that advertisers would look at those stations as a connection to a marketplace,” she says. “It’s a large undertaking to do these kind of events and do them well, but the stations that are focusing on it are finding its very successful. It gets back to no one does promotions better than radio.”

The report also found that AT&T stayed radio’s top advertiser for a second consecutive year, increasing its budget by 3%. And Comcast remained in second place, with with T-Mobile, McDonald’s and Verizon Wireless rounded out the top five spenders.

Finally, automotive was radio’s top ad category again in 2014, despite a 2% drop in total spending. Budget increases by Fiat Chrysler and the Chevrolet Dealers Association led to the growth.

This report underscores something that’s been clear for some time: local consumers are best reached by using multiple platforms and tactics. Live events are integral to that.


The Enchanting Value of Customer Personas


The thrill seeker. The One-of-a-kinds. The diamond cutters. These are just a few names that marketers use to describe their customers.

Customer personas are ways of characterizing consumers and audiences. They’re often based on research that maps out who is buying products or services and can help inform everything from more effective brand copy to new product development.

Some companies have incredibly clear customer personas.

For example, Zipcar’s main buyer is the millennial urban dweller. Recognizing that young city dwellers value health and fitness, Zipcar launched a viral marketing program with Starbucks. Consumers were encouraged to try out a “Low Car Diet.” This experiment led to more than 50% of the participants excited about using their cars less often and walking and biking instead. Thus, Zipcar established itself as an eco-friendly advocate of a healthy lifestyle and weaved that concept into its brand.

When Staples redesigned it’s web site, it applied qualitative and quantitative customer research through every step of the design process, while incorporating feedback from thousands of customers along the way. The company based its design on specific customer shopping characteristics. From this research, the primary Staples customer personas, or types — Lisa Listmaker and Sammy Specific — were born.

According to Staples:

Lisa Listmaker is an office manager whose main goal is to get the order done as quickly as possible. She usually has a detailed list of her “standard order” with item numbers for each product handy while ordering. She shops most often via, in addition to using her Staples catalog and visiting her local Staples store, and usually completes the order in one visit–true to her “in-and-out” nature. She likes special deals if they’ll help her save the office even more.

Sammy Specific runs a small business and is not a planner when it comes to buying office products. Among other characteristics, Sammy typically does not shop by item number, but knows the products he needs by brand and/or general specifications.

Savvy marketers would do well to think hard about their customer and their personas. Here are some samples from a comprehensive (and occasionally amusing) list of brand personas.

(Compiled by


Achievers are accomplished. They crave success and have a way of making things happen for themselves and the project at hand. They are often referred to as ‘accomplished’ or ‘overachievers.’ They wear the title “most likely to succeed.” Their achievements are visible to those around them.

Ambassadors are diplomatic by nature. They know how to get along with others and seek to find common ground. Sometimes they can be seen as political – understanding how to work the system to get things accomplished.

Calmers have a sturdy zen-like nature. They are often the calm in the storm and are almost unshakeable. They are easy-going in nature and although they understand the serious side of challenges, they’re rarely ruffled by it. Because they keep a level head even during stressful times, they are valuable members of teams.

Caregivers think of others, often before themselves. They are supportive, loving and empathetic. They enjoy taking care of others and ensuring that those around them are cared for. Caregivers are usually very tuned in to how people around them are feeling and are quick to help out those in need.

Diamond Cutters are exact. They are precise. They often like detail and speak in specific terms. They are not prone to hyperbole or inaccuracy. They speak and act with accuracy.

One-of-a-kinds are individualists. It is hard to describe them because they have a very special way of being. People use words like as quirky, unique or colorful to describe them. They usually stand out from everyone else you know and are typically comfortable being themselves.

Persuaders are convincing. They have an uncanny ability to make you see things their way. Some use facts, others reason, others analogies. But they all are gifted in their ability to convince those around them. They are often so talented at the art of persuasion that they can get someone to make a 180-degree turn.

Sparks have a natural energy. They are spirited. People refer to them as sassy. They often light up a room and can have a bold aspect to them.

Wonderers have an innate curiosity. They often don’t accept things at face value. They are interested in many things and want to know more about them. They can ask lots of questions to learn more about that which surrounds them.



The Best Valentine’s Day Ads Come From Unexpected Places

While many are vying for restaurant reservations, buying chocolates and delivering flowers, marketers are vying for their own share of Valentine’s Day messaging.

American consumers are expected to spend $18.9 billion on Valentine’s Day this year, and individual spending is up 13% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Some of the most creative marketing comes from companies that people would never associate with Valentine’s Day.

Give a Kiss, Get a Burrito

Qdoba may not be your Valentine’s Day locale of choice, but this campaign is sure to draw attention.

qdoba burrito

With the purchase of one burrito, a smooch from a friend or loved one will be rewarded with another free burrito.

“Smothered for a Smooch is meant to be fun and a bit over-the-top, and both our guests and our team members have a lot of fun sharing the love at this event,” David Craven, Qdoba Vice President of Brand Communications, said in a statement.

Starbucks Coffee Date


For this campaign, Starbucks linked up with a company that has an obvious in to Valentine’s Day:  Match added a feature in their mobile app allowing users click “Meet at Starbucks,” allowing hopeful couples to connect over a cup of coffee.

“The idea for the app’s new section builds on data from Match that 3 million of its members use coffee-related keywords to describe themselves on the site,” Adweek notes.

Dairy Queen Takes a Jab at Jewelry Ads

I was sincerely confused before laughing delightfully at this Dairy Queen commercial. Aside from ordering the cake, there are a limited number of actual spoons (complete with their red boxes) customers can order from DQ.

Dr. Ruth and Clorox

dr ruth clorox

The legendary sex therapist was enlisted by Clorox to add a humorous spin to pre-treating your clothes.

As AdAge reports,

“From a business perspective, we wanted to raise awareness about pretreating,” said Molly Steinkrauss, associate marketing director at Clorox. “We wanted to reach younger consumers too, people who typically weren’t laundry involved. …We thought there was a unique opportunity to leverage humor to reach people who might not be thinking about laundry by talking about something they might be thinking about.”

A British Grocery Chain’s Low Budget Approach

Americans may be unfamiliar with Tesco, one of the largest multinational retail chains, but anyone can appreciate these quirky Vines featuring people running into their ex-lovers at the grocery store.

If you’re not in the romance industry, marketers have two options: get connected (like Starbucks), or just have fun. Amazing marketing means that consumers will fall in love with your brand. It may not exactly be the love we celebrate on Valentine’s Day but great ads can come close.


Target and The Power of Simplicity

Just as the chatter surrounding dancing sharks and depressing Super Bowl ads begins to fade, the 2015 Grammys stepped in, loud and clear. Too often big “tent pole” events fail to deliver the impact their sponsors crave. For music’s biggest night, Target gave fans more of what they crave: live music.

In the four minutes usually reserved for big brand messages, Imagine Dragons premiered their new single “Shots”, live in Las Vegas. Incorporating a 360-degree screen, LED jewelry on fans, helicopter footage and no fewer than 22 cameras, the performance proved that sometimes the strongest creative concept is the simplest.

Target VP of Marketing, William White said it best when interviewed by AdAge: “We had this idea that was very bold and very simple, too. What do fans want when they’re watching the music awards? More music performances.”

Sometimes the most simple ideas can be the ones that break through.



In Super Bowl Advertising the Biggest Plays Are Off the Field

Last night, the New England Patriots landed their fourth Super Bowl victory by beating the Seattle Seahawks in an epic comeback, rallying from a 10-point deficit to win the game 28-24.

But for advertisers, of course, the game is played between plays. With its 100 million plus audience, marketers swoon at the chance to showcase their creative during one of the game’s highly coveted breaks from the action — at a price tag of 4.4 million dollars for 30 seconds. This year will probably not go down in history as one of the best for Super Bowl ads. Humor wasn’t as prevalent as in previous years and Nationwide’s spot about dead children was beyond depressing. That said, here are a few Super Bowl ads that stood out.

Esurance Brings Back Walter White

While many in the CBS office still collectively mourn the loss of Walter White, this spot gave us a collective glimmer of hope and made us laugh really, really hard.

Mindy Kaling Thinks She’s Invisible, Tries to Kiss Matt Damon

After being treated like she’s invisible, Mindy Kaling decides to act like it in this Nationwide spot. After a rampage of bad behavior, she tries to get in a smooch from Matt Damon before realizing everyone can, in fact, see her.

Liam Neeson’s Revenge

It’s still a little weird to see ads for mobile games featuring Kate Upton, but it looks like they’re here to stay. This Clash of Clans commercial nabbed Liam Neeson to emulate his role in Taken and swear revenge on his internet enemies.

Always #LikeaGirl

Always decides to take back the phrase “like a girl.” After asking people what it means to “throw like a girl” or “run like a girl,” the commercial raps up with some great female empowerment. There were a lot of female celebrities and influencers using the hashtag on Twitter, which was really cool to see.

Danny Trejo Stars in the Brady Bunch

The Snickers / Brady Bunch ad was probably the best of the bunch. Featuring a new take on the ‘you’re not yourself when you’re hungry’ Snickers campaign, Danny Trejo steps in as Marcia Brady on the set of The Brady Bunch, while Steve Buscemi makes a surprise cameo as Jan. Hilarious.

Pierce Brosnan’s Perfect Gig

Pierce Brosnan may not be getting as much action roles these days, but this Kia spot hilariously plays off over-the-top expectations in car commercials as the aging James Bond gets pitched to do a car commercial. Entertaining and smart.

Fiat’s Little Blue Pill

Fiat took a new approach with Viagra. One man’s tragedy is another car’s treasure?



Why Podcasts Are a Powerful Form of Native Advertising


You don’t have to read much media news to see that marketers are in love with native advertising right now. But most people don’t talk about native advertising on podcasts. They should!

For the uninitiated, native advertising is marketing that closely matches the platform on which it appears. A classic example from the world of radio would be a regular traffic report brought to you by an auto dealer, but there are lots of examples in other media too.

Last month, CBS launched, our own podcast network, giving us a whole new way to deliver compelling and relevant content to audiences. also gives us the opportunity to explore new and innovative ways to marry programming and marketing. And I’m pretty stoked about it, since I’m an avid podcasting fan. If you haven’t yet thought about podcasting as a brand opportunity, here are some reasons why podcasts are remarkable native advertising tools.

Unprecedented creative opportunities

In a recent post on Contently, Celine Roque argues that podcasters have been thinking outside of the box when it comes to sponsored content: Mailchimp commissioned a rock opera, Square Space put out a sponsored song, and StartUp, a podcast about entrepreneurship, interviewed a sponsor about just how much bang for their buck they got from advertising with StartUp.

Though not a new medium, podcasting is relatively new for major advertisers. A major benefit? Most podcasters aren’t burdened with the tradition and standards of older mediums, or even larger operations. In short, they’re willing to experiment, and that’s good news for those with a creative streak. And because starting a podcast is relatively easy, there is lot of untapped talent for marketers to work with.

A highly-engaged, targeted audience (that’s growing)

Most podcasts aren’t seeing explosive audience growth, but they are seeing numbers increase consistently. As Roque notes, “39 million Americans listen to podcasts each month, and this number has been growing almost every year since 2008.” She also notes that many podcast listeners are “super-listeners” that consume nearly 2 hours daily. Additionally, podcasts consumes 25% of these users “share of ear.”

I might not quite make the cut for the “super-listener” segment, but I’m pretty close… And podcasting has my rapt attention during the time I’m least distracted by anything else – commuting on the train.

podcast graph

A better relationship

On terrestrial radio, countless studies have shown that most listeners feel their radio host is “like a friend,” who they would trust a product recommendation from.  There’s just something about the spoken word that builds relationships that stick with us. And a good podcast host is no different. It’s that relationship that printed sponsored content can’t beat.

Traditional ad spending is incredibly important, but it can be amplified. Native advertising on podcasts, like radio, is so effective because the audience is captivated and engaged. Above all, messages should be natural to maximize use of the medium and its audience. Why not lean into the host’s connection with her passionate fans by allowing flexibility in delivering the brand message?

So, when you’re thinking of going native, keep podcasting in the mix. You just might find exactly who you’re looking for.


Blizzard of the Century or Not, Brands Are Ready

As social media becomes more and more critical to how consumers get information, brands are becoming mavericks in their real-time marketing.

When the power outage delayed Super Bowl XLVII, Oreo was quick to act with their savvy tweet, “You can still dunk in the dark.” According to Ad Age, the post was retweeted more than 10,000 times in one hour. It’s safe to say that Oreo brilliantly stole the night.

Brands like Oreo understand the importance of seizing the opportunity when the appropriate opportunity presents itself, and they did so again during the #Blizzardof2015. The storm may not have been quite the blizzard that some were predicting, but brands like DiGiorno, Red Vines, BuzzFeed and Aeropostale wasted no time in jumping on the Juno snow wagon.


Large shared events, like Juno, offer brands the opportunity to be relevant and relatable to their audiences, offering a real-time and even local-feeling perspective, but there’s a risk.

As Shankar Gupta, VP of strategy at 360i, told Adweek: “If a brand has some real role to play for consumers in a blizzard, then by all means, go for it. But if not, brands just talking about the weather is pretty dull—even duller than humans talking about the weather.”

Without putting some actual thought into whether a brand will break through the clutter of noise and fear-mongering, especially during a storm, brands risk appearing opportunistic and exploitative. Natural disasters are just that, disasters. Brands have to be extra careful when trying to engage audiences in such situations.

Jill Sherman, a VP/General Director of social and content strategy at DigitasLBi Boston suggests sticking to light hearted conversations, like “stay-warm ideas.”

So what’s the advice for brands that just can’t help themselves when it comes to adding unwanted insight to the current conversation? Duct-tape your social media manager’s hands together to avoid controversy? (You can take that up with HR.)

Perhaps it’s more important to remind them to be tasteful and smart. Blizzard or not, brands have to be wary of speaking out just for the sake of speaking out. If not done right, posts and tweets can easily be overlooked as media jargon, or worse, can offend and create a backlash.

But if a brand can select which moment is best to strike, and do so in an honest, natural, and relevant way, then it’s possible to recreate a golden Oreo-at-the-Super Bowl moment. So the next time your social team is in that war room preparing for battle during the next Juno or maybe Super Bowl XLIX, remind them of relevancy, appropriateness, and the social rule of thumb, “Think before you post.”


The Top Five Trends at the 2015 North American Auto Show

I just attended the 2015 North American Auto Show in Detroit and I had a blast. Relentlessly exciting and with a ton of surprises, this year’s show was one of the best in years!

1. Horsepower, horsepower, horsepower

In the auto industry today, technology is supercharging an incredible horsepower and power race. This was the overwhelming theme of the show and could really be seen in almost every auto maker’s offerings. Powerful cars like these tend to attract younger and more influential buyers to a brand—even if they don’t buy one. It’s all about getting noticed and providing inspiration. Three cars blew me away with their looks and raw power.

FORD GT debuted with over 600 HP.

FORD GT debuted with over 600 HP.

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider —an open air version

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider —an open air version

Cadillac 640 hp CTS-V (Corvette V8 engine)

Cadillac 640 hp CTS-V (Corvette V8 engine)

2. Luxury SUV’s are Hip
In many ways this was the year of the SUV. Sport Utility Vehicles are now the most popular body style in the country and with lower gas prices, suddenly the prospect of owning a sport utility vehicle can make economic sense too. A raft of all-new and refreshed models is coming on-stream for the 2015 model year. Here are the three models that most piqued my interest.


Volkswagen Cross Coupe GTE


The Mercedes 577 Hp AMG variant

The Mercedes 577 Hp AMG variant

Volvo S60 Cross Country

Volvo S60 Cross Country

3. Self Driving Cars

People have been talking about self-driving cars for years, but this year’s show proved that the dream is inching closer to reality. Parts of the self-driving experience were on display: three-dimensional cameras, lane-correction devices and other tools that increasingly remove the driver from the tasks of steering, braking and accelerating. Cadillac announced it would offer “Super Cruise” in its 2016 Cadillac sedan that allows the car to automatically keep in its lane, brake and accelerate. The chairman of Mercedes Benz said that fully autonomous vehicles will be in showrooms in five to fifteen years. Don’t trade-in your Honda just yet, but make no mistake: these cars are coming!

4. Trucks are back, in a big way

One beneficiary of low gas prices is the truck. As the economy has improved and industries like construction and ranching have picked up, the truck has seemed more important than ever. And automakers introduced some fantastic new models.

The 2016 Nissan Titan

The 2016 Nissan Titan


Toyota Tacoma

Toyota Tacoma


Ford F150 RAPTOR is off road ready and has a wild look

Ford F150 RAPTOR is off road ready and has a wild look

The Ram 1500 REBEL is a tough looking truck, bold styling and ground clearance of 10”

The Ram 1500 REBEL is a tough looking truck, bold styling and ground clearance of 10”


5. Plug ins

As in previous years, hybrids were a huge story in Detroit. Almost every company introduced a new plug-in hybrid. The two biggest introductions were from the same brand: Chevy. Hyundai introduced its first plug-in, the Sonata. And notable plug-ins from Hyundai, Honda, Audi, Volkswagen, and Mercedes could be found in Detroit. Here are some of my favorites.

The 2016 Chevy Volt operates as an electric car for its first 38 miles and then uses gas to extend its range.

The 2016 Chevy Volt operates as an electric car for its first 38 miles and then uses gas to extend its range.


The Chevrolet Bolt EV concept car would cost $30,000

The Chevrolet Bolt EV concept car would cost $30,000

2016 Audi Q7 is plug-in hybrid with a six-cylinder diesel engine and quattro all-wheel drive.

2016 Audi Q7 is plug-in hybrid with a six-cylinder diesel engine and quattro all-wheel drive.



2016 Sonata plug-in hybrid, which gets a larger battery and a more powerful electric motor.



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