Advertising agency creates reality TV show

As Hollywood continues to set up shop in Pittsburgh, a local advertising agency is taking a crack at the reality TV biz

Apple Box Studios partnered up with a local artist and his wife to create the pilot episode of Room 2 Grow, a new reality TV series that shot in November and will be ready for distribution March 2018.

Christopher and Stacy Galiyas tried for several years to have a child. They finally found success through a local fertility clinic. And when it came reality TVtime to learn the gender, they made it count. This life chapter sparked the idea behind Room 2 Grow, the half-hour reality TV series that takes the gender reveal phenomenon to the next level. Christopher is the creative visionary. Stacy is the voice of reason who keeps it all together while balancing work, family, and her husband’s non-stop schedule.

Each episode will feature a new couple with a story to tell. They will discuss their journey, overcoming life challenges, how they met, and the excitement of their newest family addition.

Helping the soon-to-be parents through the uncertainty of starting a family is the inspiration for the work that follows. Christopher and Stacy are the only ones aware of the baby’s gender. They aren’t just turning a room into a nursery.  They are transforming it into a magical and poignant space filled with meaning.

This show can be featured on a wide variety of networks such as, A&E, Bravo, HGTV, Lifetime, and other family channels. We are creating the pilot now and will soon be pitching it to networks.

This is much more than a home improvement show. Room 2 Grow is about the bonds of family, our hopes and dreams for the future and the opportunity of a lifetime.


Room 2 Grow is produced by Apple Box Motion Arts, LLC

Principal photography: November 2017 in association with Apple Box Studios Inc.

Available for Distribution: March, 2018

©2017 Apple Box Motion Arts, LLC

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Biggest Ad Campaign Fails of 2017

Before we kick off with what 2018 has in store for advertising, let’s review some of the 2017 marketing disasters

We bet you instantly though Pepsi and Kendall Jenner. And you wouldn’t be wrong. That was indeed one of the biggest campaign fumbles in the past decade. But let us joggle through your memory and bring to light a few other flub-ups that would like to be forgotten.

Pepsi/Kendall Jenner

Trying to use Black Lives Matter to sell sugary soft drinks shouldn’t sound like a good idea. And it wasn’t. In Pepsi’s Content Creators League commercial, the model ditches a photoshoot to join a march happening on the street. Jenner saves the day when she hands a police officer a can of Pepsi. It was crucified on social media, mocked on SNL, and ultimately pulled from air. Advertising agencies seized the opportunity to say something like this would have never happened had a shop been involved. (And they’re right). PepsiCo Global Beverage Group President Brad Jakeman left six months later to form a consultancy, and told Ad Age the spot was “the most gut-wrenching experience of my career.”


People were not lovin’ the McDonald’s U.K. Filet O’Fish campaign. A commercial from Leo Burnett showed a young boy sorrowfully asking his mom about his deceased father. After a long minute and fifteen seconds of the boy learning he’s the exact opposite of his dad, it’s revealed they shared a McFavorite for the Filet O’Fish. Hook line and sinker for the haters who said this was exploiting bereavement to sell sandwiches.

Big Tobacco

This campaign fails worldwide. Big Tobacco agreed to run anti-smoking ads on TV for the first time since 1971 as a consequence of the cigarette industry’s master settlement agreement. The campaign began in November and are the least convincing you will ever see. Plain black text on a white background with mandated warnings.

Fragrance Ads In General

Granted some aren’t awful, but Chanel may have been huffing something other than perfume. Its Gabrielle fragrance campaign shows Kristen Stewart unraveling herself from a cocoon of sheer to then punch through a wall of diamond-like substance all to the soundtrack “Runnin’ (Lose It All)” by The Naughty Boy. Aren’t they paying women in Hollywood enough these days?


Click here to see AdAge’s full article with more campaign fails.

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Paid-Search Insights to Help Win The Holidays

Holiday shopping is crucial to paid search advertisers. How can you make the most of it? We found some insights and tips to improve your paid search performance.

paid searchReady or not, the holidays are here! Black Friday is only three days away, which means it’s the most wonderful time of the year to get your products in front of millions of shoppers searching for the perfect present at the perfect price.

Recently, we read an article on strategies for making the most of your paid search campaigns this holiday season. And the findings may surprise you.

1. It’s not all about Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Bing Ads data reveals majority of us are procrastinators. Shocker, right? What you may not know is that Black Friday and Cyber Monday only make up a whopping 17 percent of all holiday sales. Forty percent of gift purchases are made after these big days.

So what does that mean for you? Don’t blow your budget. You still want to save a decent chunk and bid early to get the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, but you also want to save a little for sales throughout the season. That includes pre and post-Christmas!

  • Use a campaign planner to benchmark and project seasonal traffic spikes
  • Set up automated rules and alerts to track ad spend in real time. (This allows you to have budget to spend to win sales late in the season).
  • Make sure your titles include all relevant details like brand, size and color. Don’t forget about character limits, and test the order of product attributes to determine what works best.

2. Early-birds account for 39% of holiday sales

While some of us are holding on to the last bits of Indian Summer, lots of early birds are searching and buying well before Thanksgiving. 30 percent of holiday purchases are made year-round, and 9 percent are made in the weeks before turkey day. What does this mean? You need to plan earlier and have your campaigns ready by early November. If you’re still working on them now, sorry sister, you’re late.

In November, your early birds and non-procrastinators are researching their upcoming purchases. Leading up to Thanksgiving, you’ll want to focus on building brand trust by making it easy for searchers to access product reviews and comparisons.

  • Use extensions to link to reviews and product compromises
  • Expand keyword coverage to include research-centric terms like “ideas,” “best,” “kids” and “women’s.”
  • Remarket! They already came back to look; make sure they return when they are ready to buy.

3. One for you, two for me

In the era of “treat yo self,” self-gifting is at an all time high. People shop for themselves about 70 percent of the time during their holiday shopping spree, especially when it comes to apparel. Something about putting on a new dress or new shirt for Christmas dinner just feels right, doesn’t it?

  • Test out self-gifting ad copy for popular self-gifter items.

4. There’s more than just turkey and football on the brain

Like dinner, search is  hot on Thanksgiving. Shoppers are gearing up, scouring the internet as the plan their Black Friday attack. What are they searching for? Deals, duh. The week leading up to Thanksgiving, showcase your upcoming deals. Then, on Black Friday, make it easy for customers to find your store and coupons.

  • Adjust copy to relevant keywords and seasonal terms like “special holiday offer” and “Black Friday deals.”
  • Countdown ads show a sense of urgency for limited-time offers.
  • Make it easy for shoppers to find your nearest location to their mobile device.


So what are you waiting for? Time to get your product in front of shoppers. The holidays are literally here!

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The Rise and Fall of Tobacco Advertising

Once glorified, now shamed. Did advertising help decrease smoking?

By today’s advertising standard, vintage tobacco ads are hard to take seriously. They depict smoking as something so essential, it’s hard to image the turn it took in today’s market.

Cigarettes made women desirable, stylish, and irresistible to men. They increased their chances of looking like Lucille Ball or Marlene Dietrich. Victory over the Germans and Commies came from smoking Chesterfields. And by inhaling enough Raleighs, you could win prizes!

You won’t see pretty girls in short skirts holding their favorite methanol brand or Eddie Murphy on a box telling you to “always buy ‘em by the carton” on cigarette boxes today.

The anti-smoking campaign kicked off in the early 1980s, and clearly continues to be impactful. The rate of smokers in the U.S. declined for the first time in about 25 years.

Experts attribute this drop to the mounting impact of anti-smoking advertising campaigns, cigarette taxes and smoking bans.

To get a better insight on how drastically smoking advertisement changed, take a trip through the cigarette ad history in the gallery below.


Posted in AppleBlog

The Influencer Marketing Takeover

influencer marketing

A huge trend took place in marketing this past year. It happen so quickly, most of us didn’t realize this shift was happening.

One of the biggest changes is the rapid growth of influencer marketing. To understand this trend, we must first grasp exactly what it is.

As defined by Forbes magazine, influencer marketing is a non-promotional approach to marketing in which brands focus their efforts on opinion leaders, as opposed to direct target market touchpoints.

Once thought to be a quick trend, it’s become clear that influencer marketing is here to stay. It exists on all popular social media channels including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

It’s become a movement of seeking out experts in the industry instead of celebrities to showcase a product. Now influencers are the ones everyone is watching. For this reason, more brands see the value in paying these influencers to represent their products.

Additionally, brands face the challenge of ensuring credibility when using celebrities. This strategy of putting the face of a famous person on a marketing campaign, when there isn’t a natural association with the product or target audience, has become ineffective. Now, consumers have become increasingly savvy and they’re able to see through a brand endorsement that doesn’t feel genuine to them.

Beforehand it would have been crazy to think of a teenager with a million followers on Instagram. But today, those teenagers are working with big name brands to use their products, while also being careful not to “sell out” and become a product pusher on social media.

The best influencers on social platforms do an excellent job of integrating their branded campaigns into their unique, personal stories. They know their audiences inside and out, as well as what they must do to get them engaged before they quickly leave a post.

With this new influencer marketing movement, there comes a new responsibility for advertisers. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) has had to issue new guidelines for the brands working with influencers. One such guideline requires that influencers recognize when they should identify something as a paid-for endorsement. For instance, when influencers post branded videos or sponsored blogs they should include an ‘ad’ warning in the title to notify their followers.
Overall, these influencers have become the experts driving consumer purchases and with that comes the task of ensuring their audience knows when they are being advertised to.

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Google Limits Search Ads on Addiction Rehab Queries

google adwords rehab

Exclusive: Google is cracking down on sketchy rehab ads

Following a Verge report about rehabs gaming Google, the company begun pulling AdWords

This past week, marketers in the $35 billion addiction rehab industry are facing unpleasant surprises. No more Google ads. The search engine giant suddenly stopped selling ads against the huge number of rehab-related search terms, including “drug rehab near me,” “alcohol addiction treatment,” and many others. Search ads on some of those keywords would previously have netted Google hundreds of dollars per click.

What Happened?

Google began limiting ads on search results pages for drug and alcohol rehab center enquiries.

The Verge recently reported that rehabilitation centers like those operated by Advanced Recovery Systems suddenly saw ads disappear from roughly 40 percent of queries they were targeting.

Searches like “heroin detox,” “drug rehab,” and “opioid treatment center” are examples of the queries that yield results without ads. Organic local listings replaced where text ads lived.

Rehab Search


As of right now, ads still appear on rehab-related searches such as “addiction help” and “painkiller detox.”  That is likely to change as this update continues to roll out.

rehab addiction ad

This leaves legitimate treatment centers like Gateway Rehab in a weird limbo now that the potential for visibility and traffic from Google search ads will only be limited further.  The change only impacts ads; organic results remain unaffected other than they now appear higher on pages with disabled ads.

Why Is This Happening?

As opioid addiction in the US reaches epidemic proportions, the demand for treatment programs has surged.  Combine lack of regulation and treatment standards with massive demand and new insurance mandates, and you have an environment ripe for misuse.

A Google spokesperson said, “We found [several] misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category. As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”

Google has been consulting with a non-profit resource for people seeking treatment called Facing Addiction. In an email, co-founder, Jim Hood said, “We have been having discussions with Google for the past few months. As you can imagine, this is an extraordinarily complicated conversation, with many moving parts.”

F.A. pulled a comprehensive analysis of how much money addiction rehab centers and lead generating companies in the field pay to advertise their services and facilities in Google search results. Looking at the current economics of treatment care, the cost of a lead is irrelevant because only a small percent of paying patients covers the marketing costs. Or in other words, patient care becomes a secondary concern.

Unfortunately for Google, this isn’t their first rodeo. The search engine giant has changed the way it handles ads a few times to address other abuse.

In 2011, the DOJ levied a $500 million fine on Google for having allowed Canadian pharmacies target US consumers with search ads, and in July 2016, Google instituted a ban on payday and high-interest loan advertisers.

Now What?

Well unlike pharmacy and payday loan scenarios where ads still appear on related queries, Google disabled advertising on certain addiction rehab-related search results altogether until they can figure their stuff out.

The goal is to ensure that consumers turning to Google for search only see reputable resources, but it’s not going to be an overnight fix. It’s going to be a complicated task that will take serious time and effort. It’s also putting good actors that rely on Google as a top lead source in a top and unpredictable spot. Media buyers are likely to see a continuing drop-off of fluctuation in ad impressions as Google works this one out. Will these ads return? We don’t know, but an alternative solution is likely around the corner.

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Point Park Senior Lands Full Time Position at Pittsburgh Ad Agency

From Internship to Full Time Position

Graphic Designer, Jessica Joseph, Recaps Her Experience At Apple Box Studios


Graphic Designer

Jessica Joseph, Graphic Designer

Looking at the calendar, it’s been four months since my college graduation and almost a year into my career.   It feels like yesterday I was walking down Penn Avenue with some friends, and I look up at this red, brick building to a metal plaque that read, “Apple Box Studios.” Aspiring to be graphic designer, I knew I wanted to get experience in an advertising agency so when I returned to my apartment I looked up Apple Box, and it was fate. They were hiring new fall marketing interns.

During my first week on the job, the whole office went hiking on the Rachel Carson Trail. I love the outdoors, so I knew this was going to be awesome. Plus, I got to bring my camera. A day away from the desk on a beautiful trail, sounds like a pretty decent work day to me.

When we got to the trail, the Chief Creative Officer, a.k.a. owner of Apple Box, a.k.a. my boss told me, “You are the art director. Tell us what to do and we’ll do it.”

I didn’t know what to say because this was my first week on the job, and I can be a little timid with people I just met. Also, I had absolutely no idea how to direct anything, let alone anyone. I was the new intern!

Throughout the hike, Mike said things like, “What’s your vision?” and “You know what to do” – I had NO CLUE what to do! So I just started snapping photos when I saw the right opportunity, and I ended up getting some great stuff!

In other words, I followed my gut to just wing it, “fake it until you make it,” right? And everything turned out great. That day, I thought to myself “if this is how this ad agency spends their Fridays, it must be a pretty cool place.”

From September to April, I learned the ins and outs of agency life in Pittsburgh, and a few tidbits I have kept with me are:

  • Coffee is 100% necessary in the morning
  • You can never create too many versions of one project
  • You’re usually always working with other people
  • Pickleball is a game played to help people with Parkinson’s disease stay active, but they are VICIOUS ON THE COURT
  • The Adobe programs are a bottomless pit of tools. No one will ever know everything there is to know about them.

By being in the right place at the right time, I was lucky to land the internship at Apple Box Studios. I must done something right during that time because I was able to secure a full time Graphic Designer position a few weeks before I even graduated, and I’ve never looked back! Along with making life-long relationship, I basically play all day and get to call it “work.” I wouldn’t trade this ad agency life for anything.

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Fastest Growing Ad Agency

Apple Box Studios named one of Pittsburgh’s Fastest Growing Agencies

It is our pleasure to announce Apple Box Studios as a winner of the 2017 Fastest Growing Companies award! The award represents the Pittsburgh Business Times’ ranking of our area’s fastest-growing companies.

We look forward to celebrating alongside all the winning companies at an awards event on August 18th. During the program, Apple Box Studios will be announced as one of Pittsburgh’s fastest growing advertising agencies.

Stay tuned for the overall highest ranking results!

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What Would You Do If All Your Apps Disappeared??

By practicing on-going content curation, we come across an articles that captures our attention, and feel it’s a must-read for our clients. Check out ADWEEK’s latest article that is humorous, but also makes you think…

Apple Imagines a World Without Apps,

and How Utterly Screwed We’d Be Without Them

Remember life before apps? Sure, it was livable. But it was also a time when we owned paper maps, knew phone numbers and recognized the dating potential of next-door neighbors.

What would happen if all the apps in our current app-run world suddenly just … blipped out?

That’s exactly what Apple imagines in “Apocalypse,” a video that kicked off Apple’s annual World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) today.

In it, a new Apple employee finds himself housed in the company’s Cupertino Data Center (hello, Silicon Valley!). While digging around for an outlet for his desk fountain (an iffy thing to have in a server room), he unwittingly unplugs the actual servers, resulting in the disappearance of apps on iPhones around the world, kicking off an instant global crisis.

As a counterbalance to all the innovation Apple has helped bring to the mainstream, the brand has often played with shades of apocalypse in less funny terms. Alongside more cheerful, utilitarian ads, dystopia is part of its DNA. Chiat/Day’s “1984” was the work that first gave it life in the public imagination, after all, followed by the less well-received “Lemmings” … which was just freaky.

“Apocalypse” is a shout-out to that history, repainted in terms a sardonic YouTube audience can appreciate. Social media influencer Brittany Furlan can be seen distributing hard-copies of her selfies; meanwhile, in a shady and weird App Store black market, Tinder founder Jonathan Badeen can be found hawking himself, along with other human wares.

Something here touches upon the fear we felt ahead of Y2K, which, looking back, feels as ludicrous as this entire scenario. Or is it? Air BnB’ers get lost and bang on the doors of strangers. As Waze blips off the map, cars swerve and people panic; “I don’t even know what city we’re in!” a road tripper wails.

For those who can’t recall, something similar happened in 2011, when iPhone alarm clocks stopped working—perhaps the first time we realized, bleary-eyed and late as hell, how reliant we’ve all become on the torch of a single lighthouse.

Meanwhile, Apple’s new employee obliviously goes about his life, spraying plants and tunelessly singing to the background music, “All Right” by Christopher Cross.

In the end, “Apocalypse” isn’t meant to be seen by most people. It’s intended to stoke the imaginations (and fan the egos) of developers. “Keep making apps,” the ad concludes, “the world is depending on you.”

Outside the walls of the WWDC, it’s also an amusing, if worrying commentary on how dependent we are, not only on apps but on smartphones, the intimate conduits that have transformed us into a fluid global system.

This isn’t to say you should burn your iPhone, buy a map and learn parkour. But maybe it’s worth keeping in mind how fragile that dispersed connectivity is. Just because you never know, it may well be worth trying to reinforce our local connections—starting with engaging people whose faces we can’t swipe away.


Link to AdWeek Article

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Wrigley U.S. Cuts the Cord On Skittles Mother’s Day Ad

Yes, the bond between mother and child is sacred, but this was just too close for comfort.

When it comes to Skittles adverts it looks like the weirder, the better. . In the ad, a guy sits on the couch with his mom. He tosses out flavors of Skittles before dropping a bombshell, saying “Oh mother, I love eating Skittles every time you eat Skittles,” where the camera then pans out to an image of mother and son still connected by umbilical cord.

Matt Montei, Senior Director of Confections at Wrigley U.S. explained to ADWEEK why the ad was removed. “We made this video for every mom who likes gross jokes, and we are taking it down for every mom who doesn’t,” he said.

Guess the umbilical cord gag was just too much for everyone to stomach.

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