Our editors' picks this week examine a team-up between two cultural powerhouses — football and "Fortnite" — along with a rebuke to the usual all-American Thanksgiving ads and a more exciting spin on the pre-flight safety demonstration that's still drawn some criticism from advocacy groups:
Why the NFL is teaming with 'Fortnite' creator Epic Games
The rundown: The NFL this week announced a partnership with "Fortnite" developer Epic Games to bring pro football paraphernalia to the video game phenomenon. Starting today (Nov. 9) at 7 p.m. EST, players can purchase themed outfits inspired by the 32 official league teams, along with a special "Fornite" team, from the in-game store, with custom numbers available between 1-99.
The news marks the first time that Epic Games has linked with an outside partner on special outfits for the game, per a news release. The team-up additionally includes special football-themed character emotes, in-game items like gliders and referee uniforms.
"This partnership represents a great opportunity for millions of NFL fans who are Fortnite players to express their fandom inside the game while at the same time exposing our brand to countless others," NFL Chief Media Officer Brian Rolapp said in a statement.
The results: The "How do you do, fellow kids?" meme feels appropriate to trot out for the NFL here. That's not to say that this partnership won't be a success for both parties, as "Fortnite," which is otherwise free to play, makes a massive amount of money selling additional downloadable content like custom character skins. Combine that market with football fanaticism and this is likely to play out as a, uh, "Epic Victory Royale," to use phrasing from the game.
Though there's not much to the tie-up in a marketing sense, it shows the NFL keying into a few important trends. "Fortnite" is especially popular with teens in the Gen Z demo. As the NFL's live TV audience continues to age, and as the trend toward cord-cutting accelerates, the league needs to win over those younger consumer segments to preserve relevancy. Part of its strategy on that front has been to diversify the number of digital and mobile platforms it streams games on, but the partnership with Epic Games could also be a powerful driver of interest and exposure to new fans who like video games but don't necessarily watch football, as Rolapp's comments suggest.
Other marketers, such as Blue Apron, Casper, 1-800 Flowers and Dollar Shave Club, have tapped into the wave of interest around "Fortnite." That might be because content related to the game has commanded 50 billion collective views on YouTube alone since it launched a year ago, according to a recent analysis by Tubular Labs.
Jennie-O gives families the bird this Thanksgiving
The rundown: For many people, Thanksgiving is a joyous holiday celebrating gratitude and loved ones. For others, it's a ticking time bomb of stress and family dissension. With the latter cohort in mind, Hormel turkey brand Jennie-O has unveiled the "Give Your Family the Bird" campaign.
Creative depicts Jennie-O Over Ready turkeys being given to a snorting cousin, a mean grandma and a tech-challenged aunt. The campaign includes 15- and 30-second TV spots, along with digital and social media elements. Through Nov. 25, consumers can chat with turkey prep reps online or at 1-800-TURKEYS. In addition, the Jennie-O website includes a "Turkey Tracker" that lets customers find their turkey's farm of origin.
"Holiday stress is a well-known phenomenon; so much so that it's recognized by the American Psychological Association," Tanya Rodriguez, cultural anthropologist at Hormel Foods, said in a statement.
The results: Two weeks out from the holiday, Thanksgiving marketing is in full swing, and Jennie-O is attempting to break through the noise of wholesome, all-American ads with the cheekily titled "Give Your Family the Bird."
With competitors Butterball and Foster Farms pivoting to voice and adding emojis to their apps, respectively, Jennie-O is hoping to make waves with the 31% of Americans who find the holidays "downright frantic," according to a US Highbush Blueberry Council study cited by Rodriguez. Though the Hormel label's campaign lacks a standout digital component, such as Butterball's new Amazon Alexa skill for Thanksgiving meal prep, the effort could carry some fowl-mouthed appeal.
The brand is also getting in on Butterball's turf with a hotline mirroring the Turkey Talk-Line its competitor has offered since 1981. Jennie-O could also appeal to younger consumers like millennials who are more concerned about the origin of their food through its website's "Turkey Tracker" feature.
Air New Zealand spices up pre-flight safety video
The rundown: Air New Zealand this week debuted a music video that doubles as a flight safety demonstration to show before takeoff. The nearly 5-minute video, set to a reworked version of RUN-DMC's "It's Tricky" and "In the Neighbourhood" by Sisters Underground, acts a colorful musical number featuring glimpses of New Zealand culture, from urban scenes and beaches to native Kiwi style. The aesthetics mirror the over-the-top style of music videos from the '80s and '90s, where the creative draws its inspiration from.
Highlighting the safety tips are a cast of about 600, including Air New Zealand crew members, well-known actors, musicians, gymnasts, traditional dance troupes and community groups from around the country. The airline is sharing the video on Twitter and Facebook this week with the hashtag #AirNZSafetyVideo and #ItsKiwiSafety.
The results: Kudos to Air New Zealand for attempting to spice up the normally dull pre-flight safety demonstration genre. The video is certainly more entertaining than most and might resonate with Kiwi travelers, as it showcases local culture and destinations. The hat tip to the airline's motherland and entertainment value could spur word-of-mouth for the brand and drive online sharing. The video has generated millions of views across social channels as of press time.
This isn't Air New Zealand's first shot at using wacky videos to address safety complacency in flights. With its 18 safety video renditions over the years, the airline has built a reputation for clever marketing through the normally mundane pre-flight requirement. The most recent effort has been met with some polarized responses, however.
References to vaping and popular dance moves like "flossing" and "twerking" come off as the airline trying too hard to be hip and relevant. At the same time, there's so much movement and action in "It's Kiwi Safety" that the safety information — the entire point of the video — sometimes doesn't register, at least according to an advocacy organization. Blind Citizens NZ president Jonathan Godfrey said that the video isn't sufficient for keeping visually impaired travelers safe, and noted that "The words aren't enunciated clearly," which can make it difficult to comprehend.