Reading Time: 2 minutes
Clapperboard that reads "Christmas Movies"

As the Christmas season approaches, I’ve come to the realization that my children, now all teenagers, are not excited for the annual parade of Christmas specials airing on TV anymore. It makes me a little sad and a bit nostalgic for the time when they were little and we would pop some popcorn, cuddle under warm blankets on the couch with hot chocolate in our hands to catch our favorite holiday specials.

Now, with the abundance of streaming services we can watch many of our favs whenever the mood strikes. So, in no particular order here is my list of the Top 10 must see Christmas specials:

  1. Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer – Airing every year since its release in 1964, who can resist watching the longest running holiday special in television history. It’s the story of a misfit reindeer who saves Christmas by guiding Santa’s sleigh with his glowing nose. Watch: CBS 12/19 @6:45pm, 12/24 @9pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
  2. Frosty the Snowman – With the help of a magic hat a jolly, happy snowman comes to life and parades through town before he melts away, thumpity thump thump, thumpity thump thump! Watch: CBS 12/19 @ 6:10pm, 12/24 @8:30pm and various other times. Stream: CBS live via Hulu.
  3. A Charlie Brown Christmas – Depressed at the commercialism he sees around him; Charlie Brown tries to find a deeper meaning to Christmas. Watch: 12/19 on PBS. Stream: Apple+
  4. How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966) – Nothing beats the original! A grumpy hermit hatches a plan to steal Christmas from the Whos of Whoville only to discover Christmas is a feeling and not about things. Stream: TNT and TBS, or with Peacock.
  5. Shrek the Halls – Shrek wants the perfect Christmas for him and his family but he has no clue how to do it. He buys a book on how to do Christmas perfectly and everything is going well, until donkey and gang decide to intrude. Watch: 12/24 on ABC. Stream: Netflix
  6. Elf – The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear! Watch Buddy the Elf’s journey from the North Pole to NYC in search of his biological father, who just happens to be on the naughty list. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+, Starz.
  7. The Santa Clause – an ordinary man who accidently kills Santa Claus on Christmas eve is magically turned into the new Santa Claus. Watch: Freeform: 12/17 @5:10pm, 12/22 @7:15pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
  8. Home Alone – An eight-year-old troublemaker must protect his house from a pair of burglars when he is accidentally left home alone by his family during Christmas vacation. Watch: Freeform 12/25 @6:45pm and various other times. Stream: Disney+.
  9. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation – In classic Griswold style, Clark prepares for a perfect “fun old-fashioned family Christmas” with anything but perfect results. Stream: HBO Max.
  10. The Polar Express – When a doubting young boy takes an extraordinary train ride to the North Pole, he embarks on a journey of self-discovery that shows him that the wonder of life never fades for those who believe. Stream: HBO Max, AMC+

Written by:
Jennifer Vanisko
Reconciliation Specialist

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Why do Pilot’s execute a pre-flight take off checklist before every flight when they’ve completed hundreds or thousands of take offs previously? Because checklists are important tools that assist the flight crew in the safe and proper operation of the aircraft. Items can be missed because of distraction or being in a rush. Using the checklist every time helps them eliminate both types of mistakes and may even save lives.  In short, the pilot’s checklist ensures that everything is in order for a smooth and safe flight.  

How can we apply a pilot’s pre-flight checklist to our pre-flight duties on an advertising campaign?

Simple! At A3 we use a checklist for each vendor before each campaign. The checklist is a tool that helps us organize and prioritize our tasks. Like a pilot’s checklist, our checklist has been designed to reduce errors and ensure consistency and completeness of tasks required before the flight even starts. Our checklist doesn’t save lives like a pilot’s might, but it sure makes sure a campaign runs smoother!

In an ideal world, once the contract is signed, we would have plenty of time to complete our pre-flight duties before the flight starts, unfortunately, things aren’t always ideal. There are rush contracts, last minute changes and workload tsunamis that cause errors and impede the completion of our tasks. That’s the best time to use the checklist!

It’s important to use the checklist to ensure that all tasks are completed in order, expectations are set, and communication is in place before the flight starts. The checklist is a great tool for teamwork as well. At any given moment, it helps team members know what steps have been completed and what still needs to be done. This can be a life saver in the event someone has to unexpectedly “step in”.

Our checklist includes simple steps to ensure that everything is in place before the flight. We include the following number of steps, some are obvious, some more obscure, but all the steps collectively are necessary to avoid any in flight turbulence.   

Our steps include simply checking the accuracy of the buy and contract, making sure all the Ts are crossed and Is are dotted and that the information on the contract is accurately entered into our buying and accounting software. This is the time to pay particular attention to any special instructions on the buy. 

We also make sure that we touch base with each and every AE before the buy – yes, every time even if we’ve worked with them dozens of times before. The purpose is to introduce any new members of the team, set expectations and discuss reporting, proof of performance requirements, and invoicing timing and payment processes. Now is the time to get dashboard access, if available.   

Next, we proceed to draft, send, and confirm receipt of all traffic instructions and creative. Then, we request and review the IO to make sure it matches all the specs on the buy. Finally, we reach out on the first day of the campaign to make sure that everything is started and running. We do not want to be surprised by any late starts!

Completion of all these steps will ensure that the campaign starts correctly and that expectations are clearly set reducing miscommunication issues. It will decrease turbulence and surprises and increase the communication between the agency and vendor. Generally, completing all these steps will make managing the campaign in flight much easier. A little pre-work upfront will save you loads of time later and ensure a successful start to the campaign!

Written by:
Jennifer Vanisko
Reconciliation Specialist

Reading Time: 6 minutes
The NCAA Logo on top of background of money with basketball and football icons

The previous nomenclature for the letters NIL meant “Zero” and was reserved for describing a zero-point total in sports such as Soccer. “Times they are a-changing.”


Today, the same letters represent the acronym NIL meaning Name, Image, and Likeness, which refers to the recent change in rules by the NCAA in how it will now allow amateur Student/Athletes to profit from their own Name, Image, and Likeness on the open market, rather than simply forfeiting those profits to the NCAA, and the colleges and universities they attend.

This recent change of heart by the NCAA is triggered by many factors, not least of which is the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 21, 2021 that the NCAA’s rules restricting education related benefits were illegal and they emphasized the point with a unanimous decision.  As voiced by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, “Nowhere else in America can business get away with agreeing not to pay their workers a fair market rate on the theory that their product is defined by not paying their workers a fair market rate”. Judge Kavanaugh further expounded by saying, “Under ordinary principles of antitrust law, it is not evident why college sports should be any different. The NCAA is not above the law.”

A Few Points to Consider:

  • The original defined purpose of the restrictions on Student/Athletes from profiting from their Name, Image, and Likeness was that it might unduly influence amateur sports and was based upon the prevailing belief that “college athletes are not professionals and therefore do not need to be compensated as such.” 
  • The NCAA, seeing the writing on the wall, have lobbied congress to pass a nationwide NIL law, to avoid a state-by-state patchwork of rules and laws. Fearing this could create an imbalance in recruiting advantages between competing colleges simply based on the state in which they reside.
  • Congress has failed to pass this nationwide law. To compound this, the recent ruling by the Supreme Court forced the NCAA’s hand to enact this rule change on July 1st, 2021.
  • On June 30, 2021, the governance bodies of all three divisions adopted a uniform interim policy suspending the NCAA Name, Image, and Likeness rules for all incoming and current student-athletes in all sports. This was done in hopes to avoid conflicts created by a patchwork of rules and laws being passed by the states, since Congress failed to act.

    These policy changes are:
    • Individuals can engage in NIL activities that are consistent with the law of the state where the school is located. Colleges and universities may be a resource for state law questions.
    • College athletes who attend a school in a state without an NIL Law can engage in this type of activity without violating NCAA rules relating to Name, Image, and Likeness.
    • Individuals can use a professional services provider (agent), for NIL activities.
    • Student-athletes should report NIL activities consistent with state law or school and conference requirements to their school.

What Does this Mean to Student-Athletes?

If they live in a state where NIL legislation has been passed, they can profit from their Name, Image, and Likeness. If you live in a state where there are no laws on the books defining the NIL situation, it is up to the college or university to come up with a policy for the student-athletes to follow.

There are currently, (As of July 2, 2021) several states this will affect immediately, due to the laws already passed to deal with NIL issues.

How might this impact the way Student/Athletes are chosen and sponsored?

In the past, only the very top 1% of 1% of all athletes may have garnered attention coming out of high school. With the rules change, more student athletes in all divisions, will be seeking more regional sponsorships. Arrangements which not only make the amateur-athletes regionally and locally famous, but that will also boost the reputation of colleges these players attend, which will excite and grow their fan base.

Professional teams need stars to create buzz and excitement by signing well known and popular athletes, to put fans in the stands. They need star players to drive sales of the revenue generating items like jerseys, hats and everything that goes with it.  

I suggest professional teams will begin to consider what intangible benefits a popular athlete can bring to their program, attributes beyond those of simply their physical abilities. It might be enough to tip the balance in favor of one player vs an equally qualified other player at the same position. That difference may be the reason one athlete will get a chance at the pros, while an equally talented athlete may not get that opportunity.

What Opportunities does the NIL change bring to the different Media Channels?

  • Broadcast TV: It is great for mass visibility, but traditionally has been and most likely will continue to be the realm of only the very top athletes in amateur and professional sports because of the costs.
  • Cable: Cable may see some additional spends for product sponsorships in regional telecasts of regional sports. Again, for most athletes outside those at the very top, most companies will not likely invest heavily in the player sponsored ads due to the cost.
  • Radio: Radio is another great mass media medium and can be affordable but has the drawback of no visual image. This limits its value to the sponsoring company to the simple audio connection to the athletes in Name only while forgoing the value of their Image and Likeness. It’s not really maximizing the three elements of NIL.
  • OTT & Streaming: Much like cable, these mediums will likely be utilized to promote the NIL elements and adopted early. Advertisers will be able to measure ROI for these types of investments, very quickly. Additionally, with the increase in the number of regionally streamed sporting events, that might be the key to spur growth for the medium thanks to the NIL changes.
  • Direct Digital Displays: Direct On-Line and Mobile ads may see a boost from the rule change, but the challenge of the One-to-One delivery methodology of the ads, might not be the most cost-effective vehicle to deliver the broad reach many players will desire. On the other hand, 97% of adults own a cellphone and that number pushes to almost 99% for millennials with smart phones. The targeting capabilities might work to drive growth in social media followers, which if used judiciously, might even be more important for developing a player’s brand and social media presence.   
  • Social Media & Influencer Marketing: Both mediums should be getting a bump from the new NIL policies and laws. Especially since companies like AthleticdirectorU have started to try and figure out valuations for athletic sponsorships. In one example they relate the CPM to the number of Instagram followers an amateur athlete has. By analyzing what the world’s top 100 professional athletes make from endorsements, consisting of multiple brands, they came up with an average of .80 cents per Instagram follower. If applied in the same way to college athletes, this could be a basis for determining how much college athletes are compensated and at what rate. Both mediums deliver on the Name, Image, and Likeness aspects and additional support of Influencers this should benefit the sponsors and the sponsored by leveraging all three elements for the mutual benefit of both.
  • OOH: Out of Home has some unique advantages that suit it for garnering media investment from the NIL changes. It is a great vehicle to deliver on the Name, Image, and Likeness elements. It can be regional and local (like most of the A- to B+ level athletic stars and the colleges they attend). It can reach a broad range of potential clients in an area, combining advertiser’s messages or branding along with delivering a visual image of the athlete, their name and potentially their likeness in uniform (where not restricted by the college). From a CPM basis, this medium delivers. Broad reach, frequency, and the ability not to be skipped should deliver better results than many other advertising mediums and at an overall lower cost. Since the athlete is getting their name and image out in front of not just the local fans, but in front of others outside the typical targeted demo it creates value for the athletes as well as the advertiser by casting a wider net. The players are recognized and known to a wider audience, which in turn can help grow their social media following. That following may someday contribute to getting signed when the pro’s come calling.  Additionally, because of the lower entry cost to sponsor players with an OOH campaign this can bring in more local advertisers that typically never dreamed they would be able to afford a sponsorship arrangement.

The Wrap

The jury is still out whether this will help amateur sports or hurt it. It seems likely to be a benefit to many student athletes as they play the sports they love and will further compensate them for their time and effort, while also reducing the stranglehold held for so long by a handful of controlling institutions.

One undeniable fact is advertisers should get out ahead of this sea of change on how sponsorships are handled and proactively sign a larger number of more regional “star athletes” to sponsorship agreements. If they do, many advertising mediums should see a boost for their business. The opportunity is there, and every local sports hero with talent, drive, and dreams of playing professional sports will likely be eager to see their Name, Image, and Likeness on the big screens (billboards) or the little screens (their friend’s phones).  

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When we first signed Flying Fish Brewing as a client, we were tasked to help build brand awareness in the markets that sold their beer. As a media agency, our brains instantly started turning, thinking of ways to incorporate traditional, digital, and other forms of media to reach their current audience about the exciting new products they would be releasing, but most importantly reach a new audience that might not be as familiar with their portfolio of beer. A South Jersey staple, Flying Fish has been in business for over 20 years, but much like any company, they wanted to continue to grow their sales while staying true to themselves.

One of the fastest growing and most exciting forms of media is influencer marketing. A simple definition from Sprout Social:

Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements and product mentions from influencers–individuals who have a dedicated social following and are viewed as experts.

My idea was to utilize influencer marketing in the local markets that sold Flying Fish’s beer to help grow the brand. My plan was to identify local influencers throughout the Philadelphia DMA and New Jersey, send them some Flying Fish “swag” and the variety pack of beer that was in new packaging. The influencers would then create their own content to post on Instagram & post reviews of their favorite beer to their Instagram stories.

There are two options when building out an influencer campaign, use a managed service (pay to have the campaign set up for you, you only supply the parameters) or a self-serve campaign (you are in control start to finish). We went with the self-serve approach and used a platform to identify the influencers in the markets we wanted to hit. The hardest part with the campaign was combing through all the influencers to find the right ones to represent the brand. Some things to keep in mind are where in the US are most of the followers, do they have a large % of fake/bot followers, and what type of content do they regularly post. An influencer may have 10k followers, but if 9k of them are not in your target market or 50% of those followers are fake, it may be best to look elsewhere. We were able to find 30+ influencers throughout our markets that had a following that ranged between 2k – 10k followers, with previous content that we felt would best pair with ours and made a deal for 2 IG posts 3-4 weeks apart, with 3-4 corresponding IG stories when they posted on their pages.

Since this was strictly a brand awareness campaign, our main focus was to just grow the name Flying Fish Brewing in these markets. A3 media incorporated other forms of media for Flying Fish’s overall campaign, that included: Out-of-Home (billboards), radio ads, and other various digital elements. By combining these elements, giving Flying Fish a layered approach, they were able to see an increase not only in sales, (28% overall) but as well as on their social media platforms with engagements and follower counts.

As the media landscape continues to change throughout the years, I believe that influencer marketing is going to continue to grow and take a larger stake in brands/agencies media budgets in the future. The key is how you approach the campaign, and what the key objectives and goals are for the campaign. With our first Flying Fish campaign, we were strictly focusing on brand awareness, to grow the name. In the future, they may run a special sale/a contest/or want the campaign to drive a specific objective, which would change the approach of the campaign. Then, we would utilize specific links in the post, creative that ties to that theme, or need to see foot traffic in a specific location. Whatever the goals may be, the key takeaways I took from our campaign was be open and transparent with the influencers and adjust to different personalities and creative styles. Ultimately, you want this to be more of a partnership than them working for you, which I think can only help the creative process and any future products. With different personalities and creative styles, not one influencer is the same as the next, while they may post about similar products their style of content/picture/wording may be different and having a wide variety will only help your campaign. Influencer marketing works – you just need the right approach.