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Choose Your Own Adventure––BBQ Style––with New Wendy’s Video Ads


We recently heard about Wendy's newest campaign that advertises the return of the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and BBQ Pulled Pork Cheese Fries. Titled "Crack the Masters," the campaign by VML, a full service digital marketing and advertising agency, features a series of online videos that link to one another and transform the consumer’s experience of the advertisement into a game that almost anyone with Internet access can play. 

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According to Ketchum, the marketing agency that came up with the campaign, “Crack the Masters” sprung out of the realization that pitmasters will do anything to hide any secrets that might give away their own recipes for successful barbecued meat. In acknowledgement of this hurdle, the Wendy's team conducted extensive research by attending BBQ festivals and visiting the best BBQ joints in America. This has proven to be no easy task, however. And now, Wendy’s is asking for your help.

The interactive game follows a "choose your own adventure" format that lets you pick one master out of the three presented in the initial video (sauce, smoke and "hip") from whom you wish to intercept information. 

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But, that's not all.

Users watch a series of videos that feature some of the nation's master BBQ chefs (or so they appear) and try to pull out some of the "meatiest" secrets by reading each master's ego and personality. This, in effect, helps you decide how to respond to them. If you press a little, you might find out some secrets that go beyond Wendy's products and actually teach you helpful tips on how to make real, good BBQ. For example, you might learn what type of wood works the best for slow-cooking pork shoulder.

When I played the game, I chose to “press a little," and so as a result, I learned that some BBQ masters put coffee in their sauces. Helpful tip! Reminds me of when I learned that some people pour beer and powdered cinnamon into their chili.

To play "Crack the Masters" and learn more about Wendy's and the return of their beloved BBQ products, visit Wendy's official YouTube channel. I'll be pretending to dip my fries in cheese sauce.  

This post was written by current Renegade intern Sam Oriach. You can follow him on Twitter @samoriach.

Important Takeaways from Instagram's Newest Features


This week, I've been thinking quite a lot about Instagram. And you probably have been, too, due to the large amount of buzz the photo-sharing app has been getting lately. These mentions across multiple online news channels aren't for naught, however. Instagram has actually pushed out a number of updates in the form of new features. And they have been doing so concurrently with the expansion of their ad business, which raises questions about how the timing of the launches of these new features correlates with that expansion. In this blog post, I will outline those enhancements I find most noteworthy, provide my two cents on each and end with an assessment of how these changes relate to the expansion of Instagram's ad business.

Horizontal and Vertical Posts 
AT LAST! The square photo format, once required, has been abandoned, thrown to the wolves and left behind. At least, that's what we thought would happen. But if you scroll down through your feed, you'll note that for the most part, ads continue to follow the square format of yesteryear, despite Instagram's watershed moment. And much more disappointing is that your followers (yes, those people whose posts you like and whom you message from time to time) are not actually embracing the new change as often as you thought they would.

It's as if we have gotten used to Instagram's restrictions, complacent with its rigid structure and happy with what we had been graciously given: photo-editing tools that lacked the option of changing the orientation and size of our posts. For so long, we felt like we were in full control of how we displayed our Instagram content. And now that we have the complete package and the door to self-expression has widened just a little bit more, we aren't using it!

 Whether this is an issue relating to our familiarity with the square format or Instagram’s almost “parental” control is something I can't quite put my finger on yet. It seems like everyone I follow, and of course I, too, still needs some time for adjusting. Maybe then we'll feel comfortable abandoning InstaSize for the unfamiliar freedom of Instagram's new image orientation feature.

“Send To” 
This new feature was actually the one I was most enthusiastic about. For years, we have been tagging our friends in comments on posts we find particularly relevant to them or just plain funny. Scrolling down our feeds, we can see hundreds, even thousands of comments, each with a handle or two followed by a laugh-cry emoji. We shamelessly add to these threads ourselves, not thinking of the amount of notifications the photo’s owner will receive as a result of our thirst for (over)sharing. And so, pretty soon, the tendency to over-share via the act of tagging your friends in comments produces what I read as an aberration on content that actually hinders the natural flow of our feed intake. 

This, of course, presented a problem to the team at Instagram, one that they "fixed" with a new option now placed below every post alongside the "like" and "comment" icons. The solution allows you to directly send posts to users without having to comment. Not only does this eliminate the necessity for, say, embarrassingly posting a flirtatious comment (along with a friend's handle) on James Franco's most recent selfie, but it also encourages conversation within Instagram's newly developed direct messaging feature.

Direct Messaging
First of all, thank you Instagram for making emojis BIG AND BEAUTIFUL! Excuse my seemingly random excitement, but as a result of the expansion of Instagram's direct messaging feature, we can now note each emoji's unique characteristics. I mean… did you know that the rabbit has red eyes?

The optical trait of each emoji isn’t the only good thing worth noting about the newly embellished direct messaging feature. The main benefit is the ability to view direct messages as a continuous thread, rather than a series of comments to an image shared with multiple people. In other words, you can send a post from your feed to a friend, after which direct messaging becomes more like Facebook Messenger in the ways you interact with others: your messages are highlighted in blue while the others are gray, similar to iMessages on your iPhone and Mac. More than just an attempt at pushing Facebook Messenger out from its #1 spot as the most downloaded app, the newly expanded direct messaging feature has the effect of killing two birds with one stone. And I think that's pretty rad of Instagram, considering Facebook's already-established dominance in the social networking circuit. 

My Assessment
These updates seem to be more of a late response to existing issues and concerns about Instagram's user experience rather than expansions to boost its ad business development. However, I would argue that these recent developments in the app’s features are indeed Instagram's attempt to look good to marketers and bring in business. This is to say that while Instagram has become more user-friendly, the app as a product has also become more marketable and attractive to marketers looking to spend money on advertisements. Ultimately, by smoothing out the interface’s quirks and boosting revenue, Instagram can cover the costs of product development while:

  1. Expanding its ad business.
  2. Making the app more user-friendly.
  3. Improving its brand’s online presence.

All in all, I consider this to be very successful marketing. Not bad, Instagram!


This post was written by current Renegade intern Sam Oriach. You can follow him on Twitter @samoriach.

Social News Roundup | November 12, 2014


1. Not all content is shared equally.

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A new study suggests that 32% of Facebook users in Canada use the site to endorse content compared to Twitter’s 79%. Read more…




2. Twitter goes iconic.

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Twitter teamed up with The Iconfactory and launched more than 800 Emojis. The new picture characters can now be seen over the web. Read more…


3. Facebook is giving its users more media news feed control.

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Facebook is making a bigger effort to allow their users to control what they see in their news feeds in an effort to reduce the amount of clickbait. Read more…


4. Instagram makes much-needed upgrades

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Photo courtesy of Mashable

Instagram will now allow users to edit their captions and locations after a much-needed upgrade was released on Monday, November 10. Read more…


5. Twitter takes a stand against online harassment.

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In partnership with one of the nation’s leading women’s advocacy groups, Twitter is making efforts to put a stop to online harassment. Read more…


6. Videos as social advertising strategy.


According to the IAB, digital ad spending increased by 24% in the first half of 2014. Mobile now accounts for 22% of digital video intake. Read more…


7. Social Media Generation.

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A recent study finds that 71% of millennials check their social media sites at least once a day. Read more…


8. Ocho raises $1.65M.

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Photo courtesy of the LA Times

With Mark Cuban and other major investors backing Ocho, the newest video-based social media network has raised $1.65 million. Read more… 

9. What Facebook marketers should keep in mind when approaching millennials.

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Facebook releases second part of their study of users from 13 countries between the ages of 13 and 24, dividing them into 3 categories – optimists, explorers and realists. Read more…


Do Slideshow Apps Have a Future?


In 2013, 1.6 billion pictures were shared over social media and mobile photo sharing apps. That’s a rate of 600 million photos shared daily. To give you perspective of how quickly that number is growing, 10% of all the photos taken in all of history were taken last month.

Photo sharing apps are creating new opportunities for app developers in areas like editing, mosaics, lenses and image stitching, to name a few. In fact, near the end of the year, you may have seen your Instagram feed exploding with “Year in Review” videos generated by a handful of these apps.

Statigram offered the opportunity to create one such slideshow with pop-up metrics of your photos from the year. Paired with music, this was a nice treat for any “IGer” looking to show off his best-of-the-best. Flipagram and Picflow also stitched images together into a video and were frequently seen on the Instagram stream. The end of the year is a natural period for reflection, and the apps filled that need for photo-sharing users. But since then, you probably haven’t seen any compilation videos. This begs the question: Are these photo-video apps seasonal, or a fad bound to disappear?

There are a few considerations for the longevity of these types of applications. First, users are likely heavy users of a photo-sharing app like Instagram. However, what would be the point in their reliving photos from the past on a regular basis? The heavy users’ audiences have already seen these images and are likely looking for what’s next, not yesterday’s material.

On the other hand, these photo-stitching apps can be used compile thematic images in one thread. A photo-sharer that covers a range of subjects or many sub-segments of a particular topic can aggregate her choice images into one post. This could pique the interest of her audience again.

On the brand side, it is a different story. Sharpie and Oreo, which are major players in the Instagram space, have not yet used these apps, nor have the majority of brands. This is where Renegade thinks the opportunity lies. While these apps may seem seasonal, the compilations are unique, unlike one-off photos. If done creatively and with forethought, a brand could create real interest in the content that strengthens the connection with its followers year-round! If Boo the dog and Jamon the pig can grow their followings with selfies, then one would think creative slideshow content could make a great connection with an audience as well.

What do you think?


Twitter to Support More Embedded TV Content


In more Twitter news, the company’s interactive Amplify program welcomes a new client, television giant Viacom. Viacom will soon have the ability to deliver ad-supported video content from networks like MTV, VH1, CMT and Nickelodeon directly into the feeds of its followers. 

Taking another step towards brand-friendliness, Twitter launched Amplify to integrate traditional TV into the Twitter platform, allowing partners to embed real-time programs—highlights, trailers, promotional clips—into their tweets. These so-called “second screens” have the added feature of a frame that can host additional advertising content.



Viacom’s first use of Amplify will occur during the MTV Video Music Awards on August 25, when the network will tweet real-time clips of the program to the Twitterverse…probably something along the lines of “Here’s a clip of Beyonce’s performance: what did you think?” “Check out Bruno Mars walking down the red carpet: how about that hair?” The conversation should be interesting, to say the least, and we’ll be watching.

What’s more, this kind of video integration may eventually open doors for smaller brands to directly embed their own video content into Twitter, interacting with followers in a new, meaningful way. 

The Viral Video Formula


A new platform called TubeRank claims that it has found the formula for viral videos! After a year-long study of videos on YouTube, they have categorized and compartmentalized the seemingly elusive viral video into what they call "audience triggers" and "communities of interest." The site’s purpose is to generate videos based on these variables to give you viral inspiration. This is very helpful tool and their analysis is spot-on. A video goes viral because it evokes certain emotions (triggers) in a particular “community of interest,” who, in turn, shares it with others outside the community. If the video relates to people outside that community, it could even reach farther and go “super viral." Take a look at TubeRank’s platform and you’ll see they’ve neatly organized these "triggers" and "interests," as well as the additional categories of User-Generated Content (UGC) and branded content, into the platform interface. With this platform, you can set the intensity of three triggers, such as "EPIC", "WTF" or "Educational," select up to three communities of interests, and choose UGC or branded content or both. BOOM! They pump out the top viral videos for those criteria. With a splash of "EPIC” and loads of “Moving,” we found the viral video of Isaac’s Bruno Mars marriage proposal:

But there is still a BIG PROBLEM with this equation— TubeRank successfully identifies which community of interests and what kind of triggers caused videos to go viral, but it does not identify how these communities discovered the video in the first place. In other words, it’s missing the tipping point of virality. The "make it and they will come" method just doesn’t work! Many great videos lie dormant on YouTube for years until someone of influence happens upon them. Even videos that have great potential and do get noticed sometimes fizzle out quickly. Until the formula can also answer, "How do I get people to notice my videos?" the viral video will stay elusive.

YouTube Channel Changes


YouTube announced Monday that they are making what we believe to be EPIC changes to the channel options. Other than an overall layout change, there are two new features that we at Renegade are excited about.

New YouTube Channel

1) Channel Trailer
On the new channel, you can put up a special trailer video that appears only to users who are not subscribed to your channel. This is a great opportunity to engage browsing visitors and capture them! Plus it is a chance to set the expectations for what your channel is all about!

2) Channel Art
Finally! The coveted header banner will be available to all users. Channel art is branding that goes beyond just the background image and it is seen on mobile phones, tablets, and in the hovercard anywhere on the site!  Here is a template and guidelines on how to start creating channel art.

While we’re really excited about this, not everyone seems to be. The comments on the announcement are littered with foul-mouthed trolls. As an agency we’ve been trying for a year to figure out how to give our clients sexier YouTube channels without having to pay the big advertising sums. Interesting how the users themselves seem to be against this change. 

Is this just a case of fear of the unknown and social network change backlash? How do you feel about the changes? 

Showgirls, Kate Upton and Burgers—Oh my!


Though the big game is days away, major corporations like Coke, Mercedes, Audi, and Carl’s Jr. have already begun playing the field for the hearts of the 111 million viewers. Aside from the earned media potential of blogs and publications picking up the story, what advantages does pre-releasing your ad have?

In the case of Audi, probably nothing! Their pre-released YouTube tab “Big Game” seemingly gives away their entire spot, which costs around $2.5 million per 30 seconds. There is additional content around the same theme available for viewing, but unless Audi has a surprise up its sleeve for the big day, it has already run out of gas.

Mercedes and Carl’s Jr. haven’t quite shown it all. @CarlsJr has posted a few tweets with images from the ad shoot with swimsuit model @NinaAgdal as an appetizer. The full TV ad surely won’t be short of saucy. Mercedes, too, pre-released their ad spot with Kate Upton getting her shiny car washed, which alludes that there is more to bare.

Coke seems to be the most inventive, taking full advantage of social media for its big ad. Visit and you can watch a pre-release video that sets the stage for the big day with cowboys, showgirls and badlanders racing to the land of sweet, bubble nirvana. Coke asks you, the user, to choose who will win the race and the final spot on the air—all you have to do is tweet your vote. The fun doesn’t stop there! Immediately in return, Coke sends you a tweet with the option to delay the contenders. This is a prime example of perfectly executed brand engagement that builds to the finale. When Coke’s ad finally rolls out on the big day, you can expect to see a hoard of tweets from enthusiasts rooting for their team. 

Stay tuned to @Renegade_LLC for the Big Game Ads reviews, live as they happen on Feb 3rd. 

Will Video Kill the Instagram Star? Video-sharing Apps Compete for “Next-Instagram” Title


Without a doubt, one of the biggest social media stories of the year has been Facebook’s cool $1 billion dollar purchase of Instagram, a free photo-sharing mobile app that allows users to edit, stylize, and upload photos to several social media platforms. Instagram’s popularity and success can be attributed to a variety of things they recognized about the social media world and its users. First and foremost they appreciated the growing importance of social media on the go, and made their app fast and efficient for mobile use. They also saw the potential in enhancing a mobile photo into a work of art with digital filters: people have the tendency to be more enthused about a personalized pretty picture they created than a regular ol’ snap shot on the iPhone or Android. Since the new Facebook with Timeline has become increasingly oriented around photos and aesthetics, it is not surprising that Mark Zuckerberg would decide to purchase the best app best suited to enhance this aspect of Facebook users’ experience (and perhaps even knock out future competition). Although Instagram is still immensely popular, social media stops for no app, and the company’s success has only energized other start-up tech companies to come up with the next big media-sharing app. And this future big app on campus will undoubtedly be a video-sharing equivalent of Instagram.


The Front-Runner

Leading the way for video-sharing apps at the moment is Socialcam, which is second only to Instagram in the Apple Store’s most downloaded free Photo & Video applications. Boasting over 10 million downloads, Socialcam allows users to upload their videos to social platforms and edit videos right after taking them on their mobile device. While the formula seems to follow that of Instagram to a ‘t’, Socialcam also allows users to further personalize their mobile movies with soundtracks and custom titles, as well as with Instagram-esque digital filters.

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Socialcam is one of many hopefuls in the race to be the next Instagram, and the competition is sure to heat up with apps like Viddy, Klip, and others gaining momentum. Because these apps are all free, users are able to discriminate by personal preference, aesthetic, and desired capabilities.    


The Competition

Viddy allows users to upload 15-second videos to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Tumblr. Like Socialcam, Viddy allows you to edit your mobile movies on the go with music, digital filters, transitions and more. The Viddy celebrity community is spearheaded by Britney Spears, who has 28.3K followers.  While Viddy is the 9th most downloaded free Photo & Video app, it might be able to amass more of a following if the app was available for Android phone, as only iPhone users can enjoy Viddy now.


Klip, another iPhone-only app, offers users 20 real-time video effects. On, users can upload directly and share their movies with the klip community publicly or more privately.  Klip also encourages social media platform integration not only by sharing movies on a variety of platforms, but also by enabling searchable hashtags on the klip site. Users can use hashtags in the title of their videos, track trends or find like-minded movie makers.

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Video might not kill the Instagram star, but these apps are certainly the ones to keep an eye on in the upcoming months.


Have you downloaded a video-sharing app? What do you think the next Instagram will be? Let us know what you think.

- Emma Neisser

Steve Jobs as a marketing maven


Apple announced Wednesday that its co-founder, two-time CEO and face of the company, Steve Jobs, had passed away after a seven-year struggle with pancreatic cancer.

To detail each of Jobs’ game-changing creations would prove too lengthy for a single blog post.  Suffice it to say that a number of articles, books and even a movie have already delved into the life of the college dropout who went on to become one of the most successful and recognizable tech whizzes of our time.  The first authorized Jobs biography will hit shelves later this month, giving both the fanatics and the Mac-curious more to digest.

While a great deal of attention has been paid to the awesome (and I mean “awesome” in the truest sense of the word) gadgets conceived and created by Jobs, little has been said about his adeptness on the commercial side.  Business 2.0 once called Jobs “easily the greatest marketer since P.T. Barnum.”  Indeed his charisma, stage presence and signature style (black turtleneck and jeans) secured him the status as Apple’s most popular MC.  Although his role as marketer and showman was secondary to the innovator mantle, it still supersedes other CEOs and digital gurus.

To honor Jobs, here’s a look back at some of his most memorable marketing moments: 

1. “1984” Macintosh Ad, 1984: Directed by Ridley Scott, aired once during the Super bowl and named best commercial of the decade by Advertising Age. ‘Nuff said.


2. “Knick Knack,” 1989: The first animated feature created by Pixar, which Jobs purchased from LucasFilm and took to new heights. While not a reflection of his marketing prowess, the streamlined cinematography seemed to channel the crisp iMac ads that would run nearly a decade later.


3.  “Think Different,” 1997: While Jobs might not have created the iconic slogan, family, friends and followers consider him the embodiment of the phrase.



4. Silhouette iPod ads, 2001: Watching those dark figures rock out against candy-colored backgrounds gave you the irresistible urge to buy an iPod and join their legions.



5. “Get a Mac” campaign, 2006 to 2009: Probably the funniest Apple ad series of all time. Laidback Mac (Justin Long) always outshined his hopelessly flawed counterpart, PC (John Hodgman).


6. “New Soul” MacBook Air commercial, 2008: Yael Naim’s feathery voice provided a nice backdrop to the introduction of the first laptop to fit in a manila folder. Everyone was humming the tune throughout the year.

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7. iPad ads, 2010: Like its iPhone predecessor, the iPad commercials highlight a user-friendly interface and diverse functionality.  A neutral voiceover and soft piano keys add a simplified touch.

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Farewell, Steve Jobs. Thanks for the gizmos, the tech revoultion and the vision.

Nicole Duncan

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