Welcome to flu season: retailers get ready with promotions

Flu season is here, and the sneezing, coughing and runny noses are already well underway. Following one of the worst flu seasons on record, many drugstores and retail chains are hoping to persuade consumers to get vaccinated, and as early as possible.

During the 2017-2018 season, the number of reported deaths was at or above the epidemic threshold for 16 consecutive weeksthe longest duration in five yearsand overall hospitalization rates were higher than the previous record set three years earlier, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency reported that the number of pediatric deaths was especially high; a record 183 children died from the flu last season.

To avoid another severe outbreak, drugstores like Walgreens and CVS have already started to push flu-shot-related marketing. This month, Walgreens, which acquired nearly 2,000 Rite Aid stores earlier this year, began running advertising takeovers inside urban transit hubs in New York and Chicago. “Protect yourself and everyone else who walks this corridor,” and “Share a commute, not the flu,” ads urge consumers. The chain is investing more in the effort than it did last year, according to Adam Holyk, the company’s senior VP and chief marketing officer.

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How OMD and Starcom stack up so far in McDonald’s global media review

One year into McDonald’s massive media review, Omnicom Group’s OMD and Publicis Groupe’s Starcom have each won pieces of the roughly $3.4 billion business scattered across the globe.

McDonald’s began a global media review in October 2017, seeking to work with a roster of preferred agencies around the world rather than relying on a single partner. Previously, OMD handled media duties globally for the world’s largest restaurant chain.

So far, OMD has retained the business in Canada, China and Germany, while Starcom has won in France. Duties in Latin America will be split between the two agencies.

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Watch the newest ads on TV from Verizon, Ancestry, Grammarly and more

Every weekday we bring you the Ad Age/iSpot Hot Spots, new TV commercials tracked by iSpot.tv, the real-time TV ad measurement company with attention and conversion analytics from more than eight million smart TVs. The ads here ran on national TV for the first time yesterday.

A few highlights: A self-described world traveler talks about how Grammarly “helped me become a better writer.” Netflix serves up a dramatic promo for part two of its original documentary series “Making a Murderer.” And Thomas “Silicon Valley” Middleditch hypes the Google Lens feature of the new Pixel 3 in the latest Verizon spot.

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The U.S. ‘may be near saturation’ for streaming video services

To keep his family of four entertained, Ben Emery pays about $180 a month for Spectrum TV and internet service, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. He gets Amazon mostly for free shipping and Hulu in part because his 5-year-old daughter likes “Teen Titans Go.”

“Netflix and Hulu got in early, so that’s where I’m willing to invest my money,” says Emery, 41, a bank risk officer who lives in Kernersville, North Carolina. “I don’t have unlimited funds.”

Consumers like Emery represent an inconvenient truth for the burgeoning online video industry. Just 16 percent of U.S. broadband homes subscribe to three or more video services, according to researcher Parks Associates. And nearly two-thirds of TV homes already get at least one of the big three: Netflix, Amazon Prime or Hulu, according to Nielsen.

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To turn docs into apps, Coda had to rethink productivity from scratch

This new service looks a little like a word processor and a little like a spreadsheet. But it’s trying to move beyond 40 years of software history.

When you think about it, the history of productivity software is surprisingly short on disruptive moments. Google Sheets, for instance, may be web-based and collaborative, but its conceptual bones are the same as those of Microsoft Excel (established 1985), which itself followed the lead of Lotus 1-2-3 (1983) and VisiCalc (1979). That’s not a knock on Google; it’s just proof that the spreadsheet has remarkable staying power as a workplace tool. The same is true of the word processor, presentation package, database, email client, and a few other eternal verities of business productivity.

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Chipotle wants proof its TV commercials drive burrito sales

Chipotle is looking to prove its TV commercials actually drive sales of tacos and burritos.

As TV networks work to compete with Google and Facebook, the industry has been on a mission to prove that airing a commercial will lead to some sort of business result for marketersthe holy grail being, of course, driving a purchase.

While many network groups have been testing various attribution models, thus far they have been limited to guaranteeing other forms of business outcomes, like website visits or test drives.

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