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Steve Smith is Editorial Director of Events for MediaPost

Articles by Steve All articles by Steve

  • GrownAs* Mac and Cheese Passes the Clean-Plate Test in Brand Insider on 03/22/2023

    David Delcourt calls himself Chief of Flavor and CEO for the hot sauce brand Seed Ranch Flavor, and now the plant-based Mac and Cheese brand GrownAs*. He means it. His brands start in his own kitchen, and in the case of GrownAs* with his own kids and whether they actually clean their plates of what he tries on them. In short order, the GrownAs* mac and cheese recipe went from clean plates to over 700 stores. But only five or six years ago, David and his co-founder were selling homemade hot sauce to friends at farmers' markets and on Amazon. As he tells Brand Insider this week, his is a kind of grassroots omnichannel path.

  • Meaningful Marketing Like You Mean It: Northwell Navigates Gun Violence Messaging in Brand Insider on 03/06/2023

    Can a major brand embrace a typically triggering issue like gun violence in America and even make it part of its brand message? As Northwell Health's CMO Ramon Soto told our Brand Insider Summit: Pharma and Health last month, they grabbed that third rail of American culture to impressive effect. Their "it Doesn't Kill to Ask" campaign is a master class in creative messaging as well as genuinely purposeful marketing and branding.

  • Genentech's Culture Shift: Rethinking DTC in Brand Insider on 02/10/2023

    What do "direct" let alone "consumer" even mean when you are talking across health care providers, oncologists, MS and cancer patients, their worried families? As Erica Taylor, CMO at biotech firm Genentech recognizes, you need to rethink what those terms mean in different contexts.

  • Daily Essentials: Athletic Greens Takes the Narrow-Branding Path in Brand Insider on 02/10/2023

    The DTC growth playbook typically is about product development. From mattresses to sustainable sneakers, gourmet pet food to hyper-comfy socks, the formula is familiar: start with an attention-grabbing offbeat or artisanal take on a familiar category, and then expand the portfolio to "own" a whole category. Former mattress makers are now "sleep brands," with catalogs of linen, pillows, beds. Find new ways to up- and cross-sell a diversifying product mix to your core loyalists and create new entry points for new customers. Rinse and repeat. Athletic Greens is notably different, in that focusing on a single product, its AG1 nutritional drink powder, is key to its growth strategy.

  • Branding Like You Mean It: Walking the Walk at Insider Summits, 2022 in Brand Insider on 01/09/2023

    At our Insider Summits this past year, I was especially impressed by marketers who were embracing emerging trends and channels in earnest. They walked the walk of metaverse experimentation, tapping TikTok's potential, breaking through the data driven blandness of current advertising, and even DEI. These folks aren't just checking a box but really thinking harder about innovating.

  • Big Country: Zelle Cashes In On DOOH Screens Everywhere in Brand Insider on 12/23/2022

    Digital Out of Home (DOOH) advertising is about to boom for all of the obvious reasons: cheap and pliant screens that can go anywhere combined with ubiquitous connectivity and mobile devices for better interactivity and tracking. DOOH's potential remains to be seen. But P2P payment system Zelle is an early believer, as it maps well against the it's unique branding challenge. Senior Director of Brand Marketing, Joshua Fajardo, explains what a DOOH strategy looks like.

  • Why Zappos: Keeping It Fresh (And A Bit Weird) After All These Years in Brand Insider on 12/09/2022

    Zappos was D2C before D2C was cool. Shortly after its launch in 1999 as, it answered the burning question, who the hell wants to buy their shoes online? Indeed, the company soon became the poster child of ecommerce's promise. Part of company mythology involves legendary customer service. In fact, when Zappos's marketers started speaking at our Insiders Summits over a decade ago, they bragged about epic customer calls that lasted in some cases eight hours.

  • Selling Self-Expression: EyeBuyDirect Sees Beyond Discount Identity in Brand Insider on 11/04/2022

    Me-too brands have cluttered and confused the DTC eyewear marketplace in recent years. But EyeBuyDirect was one of the original entrants, founded in 2006. To meet these market challenges, the company recently went through a major rebranding effort around the themes of self-expression and individuality. Brand Director Jim Merk joins us this week to explain how this repositioning and image makeover evolved out of a classic conundrum for DTC brands: Sales success and growth outstripping brand recognition. Jim himself has been in the DTC for a number of years. He joined EyeBuyDirect two years ago, after a long tour of duty of driving branding at the tech retailer Newegg.

  • Candor, Influence, Relevance: Bayer's New Wellness Playbook in Brand Insider on 10/17/2022

    Denise Vitola's very title at Bayer tells you a lot about the changes at work in OTC healthcare marketing. She is VP of Brand Integration, PR, Social and Influencer, Consumer Health. The company has launched and led a range of new products using principally digital channels and especially by coordinating influencer, paid social and PR efforts all at once. Denise is a veteran of PR and marketing as well as a health coach and social influencer herself.

  • Let's Get High With Mike: Tyson 2.0 Wants to Create a Better Buzz For Cannabis Branding in Brand Insider on 10/08/2022

    When it comes to celebrity-aligned brands, they don't get any wilder than Tyson 2.0. The former heavyweight boxing champ likes his weed, and he has formed a company and brand around that passion. Tyson 2.0 produces a full range of flowers, pre-rolls, edibles, and vapes that are distributed at dispensaries nationwide. And they don't mind having fun with it. Tyson himself likes lighting up for video shoots. And the Mike's Bites line of edibles comes in the shape of a bitten ear, a direct reference to Tyson's infamous "Bite Fight" bout with Evander Holyfield in 1997, when Mike literally took a bite out of his opponent. Ironically, this is all part of the overall wellness message of Tyson 2.0, how cannabis products helped change the notoriously aggressive champ.

Comments by Steve All comments by Steve

  • 'B2B Marketing Is Dead': NI Rebrands In D2C Style by Steve Smith (Brand Insider on 09/09/2020)

    So true, Bart. I would love to heare about more b2b brands that are taking a b2c approach. 

  • 'Mad' Magazine's Famed Cartoonist Mort Drucker Dies At 91 by Melynda Fuller (Publishers Daily on 04/09/2020)

    Drucker's style was our childhood entryway to American TV and film for many of us. Everyone both at MAD and at all of its imitators tried to imitate Drucker. But even as a kid I could tell the real thing from the copycats. No one tutored us more effectively in how not to take these media industries too seriously. Like Jack Davis, Wally Wood, John Severin, Drucker's pemcil and brush had an outsized power in our lives and culture. Thanks Mort.

  • Obit: Pioneering Magazine Publisher Hugh Hefner, Dead At 91 by Joe Mandese (Publishers Daily on 09/28/2017)

    Malcolm X, Norman Mailer, Saul Bellow, James Baldwin, Jimmy Carter, Alex Haley (who originally interviewed Malcolm X for Playboy), Erica Jong, Germaine Greer, Bella Abzug, David Bowie - just a few of the interviews that still resonate for me decades later becasue they went deeper.and got closer to the figure's voice than anything else available. All of it sat within a package that was also irredeemably sexist and unapologetically wedded to the shallowest material pleasures of consumer culture. Somehow they were all of a frightening, contradictory, delusional, brilliant, craven, dazzling, piece that was America itself in the last half of the 20th Century.       

  • GenerationVexed by Bob Garfield (Garfield at Large on 04/10/2017)

    This is the fake news we need more of.

  • The Trump-ification Of 2016: The Super Bowl Implodes by Steve Smith (Mobile Insider on 02/08/2016)

    Luke. Thanks for that. Nice evolution of the argument. Although post-mass culture is more manageable than post-mass politics. Democracy still demands majorities to move forward. Mutli-party systems worldwide have long had to rely on coalition-building among varied three and four parties. One argument goes that the American two party system is already now based on coalitions of unlike-minded segments, and have been since the late 60s and the original Nixon Southern Strategy. Reagan's coalition of the blue collars, evangelixals and country club has always been an uncomfortable marriage. We are now seeing the seams show.  

  • The Trump-ification Of 2016: The Super Bowl Implodes by Steve Smith (Mobile Insider on 02/08/2016)

    Thanks Jon, Peter and both Georges for your comments. But take heart. I may sound depresssed, and this may all seem very depressing. But I think there is a real hunger for creative thinking in both commercial and political fields. History shows (American Renaissance, Civil War, Progressive Era, Great Depression, Modernism, post-WWII pop and high art in America) that it takes a loss of faith in old institutions to make us receptive to new ideas.  

  • Remembering A Legend We Lost In 2015: Joe Franklin by Adam Buckman (TVBlog on 12/15/2015)

    The WOR TV show was integral to my own passion for pop culture and respect for the troupers who hoofed, crooned, astonished and touched us from the stage. Joe had a humbling envy/respect of performers. His hospitality to performers of all stripes was an object lesson for budding media critics like myself that the people we wrote about were putting themselves out there in ways we never would. 

  • A Mass Medium Without Mass Media: Live TV Losing Default Status by Steve Smith (Data and Targeting Insider on 07/27/2015)

    Hi all. I agree with your reticence over trusting self-reported data, which is why I mentioned that caveat. The research is a tracking study of 1200 US TV viewers with broadband access, so there is a skew built into the sample. But what I found most interesting in this research was the attitudinal implications - the ways in which users admitted to watching TV with different levels of engagement and attention according to situation and source. This part of the research I find very recognizable in my and my household's own behavior has to do wil how and why we choose different sources. OTT video is chosen much more deliberately I think and is my default source for content I am ready to pay attention to. On the other hand, most live TV is on because I have made a choice not to pay close attention while I peruse books or a second screen. 

  • Verizon's 'No Cord Required' Mobile Video Service Launching Soon? by Steve Smith (MoBlog on 07/26/2015)

    @JS Oops. Missing work. The phrase should read "an OTT video market that will not lack players." Corrected. 

  • A Modest Proposal: Truly 'Native' Mobile Advertising by Steve Smith (MoBlog on 07/16/2015)

    DanielYes some vendors tried on their own to do this, which is why I am suggesting it needs to be done at the OS level or as a common standard within the infrastructure. Single players trying to make it happen won't 

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