Each week, Padilla’s Insights + Strategy team stands at the intersection of people, culture and brands to bring you five stories that you can read in five minutes.

1. Wine and Cheez-Its

House Wine and Cheez-Its have launched a new product with House Wine’s Original Red Blend in one half and Original Cheez-Its in the other half of the box. Why should you care? It’s a fun, out-of-the-box (get it?) idea. We like it because the idea originated from feedback Cheez-It received that their customers were already pairing wine with Cheez-Its. This is a great example of a company listening to their fans and creating new products (or campaigns) based on deep knowledge of what they want. [Forbes]

2. Learning through gaming

The LA Times has created a game to illustrate the challenges sea level rise (due to climate change) will pose to California coastlines. Why should you care? In reporting on coastal risks and mitigation, reporters at the LA Times found though experts all agreed it was a problem and something needed to be done, they weren’t sure which of their options was the best course forward. Alongside other stories, reporters were looking for a way to convey the complexity of the issue. “We learned that explaining an issue as complex as this one was effective when we gave readers the chance to make these emotional and strategic decisions themselves.” The beauty in this initiative was that they fought against the instinct to explain or lecture, but instead found a way to invite readers into the thick of the debate giving them a greater understanding of and empathy for the problem along the way. [Poynter]

3. Will escape for beer

Bud Light is offering free beer to any aliens who escape from Area 51. Why should you care? While others expressed more serious (albeit legitimate) concerns about the insanity of storming Area 51 to free the aliens, Bud Light found a way to connect to the light, sarcastic side of this viral story. The smartest part of this initiative is how they were able to act quickly. Rather than create the product, they made a mock-up for it. This allowed them to get the advertising attention they sought in the right moment without being held to production schedules. If there is enough interest (which they defined as 51,000 retweets), then they can make the product. Either way, this allowed them to timely capitalize on an element of pop culture without a significant investment. [Marketing Dive]

4. Mobile goes vertical

Chinese media companies are experimenting with new vertical formats for mobile video. Why should you care? We know that younger consumers are mobile-first, including in their video consumption. With this in mind, Chinese media companies have been testing new opportunities in storytelling by changing the default view from horizontal to vertical. The major elements they’ve been experimenting with include episodes between 2-5 minutes, fast comedic timing, a focus on facial reactions through split screens and a “fragmented visual language” achieved through “split screens, swipes and quick cuts.” All of these elements are things you might find on “Snap Originals” or some YouTube channels, but the difference here is how they are being used to create a new vertical mobile genre for scripted television. [The Next Web]

5. CMO no more

McDonald’s is the latest major company to announce they will no longer have a CMO, but rather split the duties between several senior leaders within their company. Why should you care? CNBC emphasizes this does not diminish the need for marketing, but rather signals how much the industry has changed with new technologies and social media. While this trend may concern individuals in the marketing field, the creeping elimination of this role seems to come from a recognition that it is a tall and unfair order. According to Allen Adamson, co-founder of consulting firm, Metaforce, “Managing a global brand 24/7 on social media channels could easily burn out five CMOs in a month.” Instead, it is expected that the responsibilities formerly associated with a CMO will continue to be split between other senior leaders in companies, creating new internal roles, but likely new opportunities for enterprising firms as well. [CNBC]

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