Empower Webinar: Spring & Summer Food Category Trends
The telltale signs of spring: snow turns into sunshine, empty flower beds bloom, birds begin to chirp and bakers swap their rich peanut butter pie recipes for fresh rhubarb pie.

You read that right. Food is hyper-seasonal, and each season brings new trends that marketers can tap into to ensure their brand stays top of mind.

Our CultureTapSM report on the food category highlights a few trends that brands in CPG (and beyond) can dig into, bringing relevance to their spring and summer marketing, media and creative strategies.

CultureTap is Empower’s trend identification platform, which helps brands participate in moments that matter. Unlike social listening tools, CultureTap isolates relevant cultural, category, brand, or competitive trends so smart marketers can act before it is too late.

Our Host

Leigh-Ann Bortz, Senior Director of Product Development

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Empower Wins Best of Show and Judge’s Choice at Cincinnati ADDY Awards
The Un-Holding Company Also Brings Home Five Gold and 10 Silver Awards.

CINCINNATI (March 15, 2021) – Empower: The Un-Holding Company was one of the most awarded agencies of the night at The American Advertising Awards. Winning Best of Show for its American Standard #Flush2020 campaign and a Judge’s Choice award for its very own holiday window gift guide were among the highlights of the evening. Check out the award-winning reel.

Everyone can agree that 2020 was a year for the toilet. So, American Standard decided to give 2020 the sendoff it deserved. For the #Flush2020 campaign, Empower custom-designed toilet paper filled with some of the worst parts of 2020, like murder hornets, COVID and being stuck on mute, and gave it away in an online contest.

“A timeless, functional brand like American Standard can be relevant and have a little fun,” said Noelle Giblin, Sr. Director, American Standard Brand Activation. “It’s not about having a large budget—it’s about having the right partners to push you outside of your comfort zone. We’re proud to earn Best of Show with our social media partner, Empower,” she said.

Empower struck gold in five categories including an award for best photography for its stunning capture of Cincinnati’s Black Lives Matter Mural in front of City Hall – a work developed by 17 Black project managers and over 70 local artists. Several publications and organizations requested to use it. Empower’s docu-series “Grind Before You Shine” follows the journey of its very own Olympic hopeful, Annette Echikunwoke, earned a gold ADDY in the self-promotion, single medium category. The Empower Search Associate is slated to compete in the Nigerian Olympic Trials in June for Hammer Throw.

“The Cincinnati advertising community used to defy expectations, but now creative excellence is expected,” said Empower’s president and chief operating officer, Rob FitzGerald. “It’s an honor to be recognized among the best in this town – the consumer marketing capital of the world,” he said.

Rounding out the night with 10 Silver ADDY Awards included recognition of the progressive healthcare advertising Empower has created for TriHealth – honoring spectacular art direction, branded content and radio.

See below for a full list of Awards.


American Standard #Flush2020


Empower’s OTR Window Gift Guide


American Standard #Flush2020 | social media campaign
Empower OTR Window gift guide | corporate social responsibility campaign
BLM Mural | photography
American Standard #Flush2020 | integrated campaign (regional national)
Grind Before You Shine self-promo | single medium campaign


Empower OTR Window gift guide | ambient media self-promotion
Empower OTR Window Gift Guide | cross-platform corporate responsibility
Grind Before You Shine (Annette) | photography
TriHealth Ortho | art direction
Grind Before You Shine | ep 1 cinematography
Grind Before You Shine series | cinematography
Grind Before You Shine Series ep1 | editing
TriHealth Cancer | radio
TriHealth Cancer “Ring Out Hope” bell | branded content
Grind Before You Shine | self-promo film video and sound


Joel Arzu — ACD, Ogilvy Chicago
Emily Chang, Copywriter, Droga5, NYC
Joshua Erhart — Marketing, Chicago, former BBDO
Kevin Hart — CD Mathworks, Boston
Dan Rozier — CD Laundry Service, NYC
Lizzie Wilson — CD, NYC, former McCaan

About The ADDYS

The American Advertising Awards, aka the ADDYS, is one of the advertising industry’s largest and most representative competition, attracting over 40,000 entries every year in local AAF Ad Club competitions. The mission of the American Advertising Awards competition is to recognize and reward the creative spirit of excellence in the art of advertising.

Conducted annually by the AAF, the local Ad Club phase is the first of a three-tier, national competition. Concurrently, all across the country, local entrants vie to win ADDY Awards—recognition as the very best in their markets. At the second tier, local ADDY winners compete against winners from other local clubs in one of 15 district competitions. District ADDY winners are then forwarded to the third tier, the national stage of the American Advertising Awards. Entry in your local Ad Club competition is the first step toward winning a national ADDY.

About Empower Media 

America’s largest woman-owned media agency

Our advantage is simple: Clients first – not shareholders.

From the day we opened our doors in 1985, Empower has always challenged the media status quo.

Empower is a highly awarded and respected media agency. We are a multi-year recipient of “Agency of the Year” from MediaPost and Campaign US with honors from Ad Age and Adweek.

Our senior and experienced integrated team of Communications Strategy, Media Innovation, Media Planning and Buying, Creative, Marketing Scientists, Influencer Marketing and Data-Analytics work in collaboration on our client’s business daily.

Empower’s client tenure rate is unmatched–3X the industry average. Our clients include Tempur Sealy, Wendy’s, Brooks Running, Fifth Third Bank, Gorilla Glue, O'Keeffe's, E.W. Scripps, Jack Link’s, VTech, Bush Brothers, Zaxby’s, GNC, Famous Footwear, Ashley, LIXIL, O-Cedar, Rust-Oleum and RoC Skincare.

Empower Media is woman-run (67% female) and woman-owned – making it the largest woman-owned media agency in America.

Our offices are in Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta, New York, Houston and Palm Beach.

Find us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, and online.

Paramount+ Marks the Maturation—And Saturation—of Streaming
With ViacomCBS’s rebrand and relaunch of CBS All Access as Paramount+ on March 4, all the major TV players are now fully represented in the streaming space.

To be fair, CBS’s entry was actually among the first to market, back in the olden days of streaming in 2014. Somehow, it’s managed to be both ahead of its time and behind the curve as this rebrand arrives two months after Discovery+ and over seven months after key competitor NBCUniversal’s launch of Peacock in July 2020.

As the 6th major streamer to launch in the last 17 months, Paramount+ faces a fully saturated ecosystem of viewing options. To properly evaluate where it fits, we must consider what matters most to consumers and advertisers: content, subscriber numbers, subscription cost and advertising options.

Content is (Still) King

TV broadcaster success has long risen and fell based on programming, and life in the streaming world is no different. But it’s the king with the most subjects who will wear the crown. As such, there is a direct correlation between those streamers who are succeeding and growing and the content they offer:

  • Netflix is the top dog with over 200 million subscribers worldwide, and 74 million in the U.S. Despite relinquishing the golden goose of The Office to Peacock in January, it remains a hit machine due to COVID-popular releases like Tiger King, The Queen’s Gambit, The Crown and Bridgerton; aggressive 2021 plans to release an original movie weekly; and continued success at the awards shows. With its Midas Touch, the rich stand to get richer.
  • Amazon’s Prime Video sits at 150 million subscribers worldwide—buoyed by the inclusion of the streaming service within the broader Prime offering. Boasting streaming’s largest content catalog, with over 14,000 movies and 2,200 television shows, Amazon features established hits like The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Man in the High Castle, new series like The Boys and Fleabag, and buzzy films including Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and the 2021 release Coming 2 America. Outside of scripted content, Amazon has renewed its partnership with the NFL and FOX to be the streaming destination for Thursday Night Football. Between its exhaustive content and America’s reliance on Prime, Amazon’s not going anywhere.
  • Disney+ has quickly surged to 95 million subscribers worldwide on the strength of the Star Wars series The Mandalorian, key film releases (Hamilton, Mulan, and Soul) and a treasure trove of classic Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars content. With plans for regular releases of new, original content throughout 2021, subscriber counts only stand to grow. Once the new releases really begin to roll, it will be tough to stop the Mouse.
  • Hulu has maintained steady subscriber counts, currently sitting at 39.4 million in the U.S. Having built loyalty on the back of workhouse hits like This is Us, The Good Place, and A Million Little Things, it looks to keep audiences engaged moving forward with a deep catalog of recent classics, content agreements with FX and Fox Searchlight and a growing supply of original content like A Handmaid’s Tale, Little Fires Everywhere and Palm Springs. If it can hold onto rights to long-time favorites long enough to further build up its originals, consumers should remain loyal.
  • Apple TV+ is perhaps the most unusual of the streamers, a hardware company turned content producer hoping to transform the TV world in much the same way it evolved music via iTunes in the early 2000s. While subscriber estimates vary from 33 million to 40 million, the actual number is asterisked by the fact that 62% of subscribers are on free offers tied to Apple product purchases. That aside, Apple’s biggest issue has been content, with success limited to the Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon drama The Morning Show, the Tom Hanks’ film Greyhound and hidden gems like Dickinson and On the Rocks. Unless they continue to renew the free subscriptions, Apple’s streamer may not last any longer than an old iPhone battery.
  • Peacock is the poster child for the power of content, debuting less than a year ago to tepid interest before reigning in exclusive (or joint) control of key intellectual property like The Office and Modern Family to the tune of an estimated 33 million subscribers by early 2021. However new, original content like Brave New World, Saved By the Bell and Mr. Mayor haven’t become the hits some expected, and the COVID delay of the Summer Olympics has postponed a key subscription driver. Based on its strong track record for content, NBC can’t be counted out in the long run, and should only be strengthened as live and sports programming transitions to streaming. COVID didn’t close this Office, but it’ll take better originals and sports to keep this bird soaring.
  • HBO Max, a hybrid of HBO and Warner Bros. content claims 17.2 million “activated” users, a nuance that separates out how many people have downloaded the app to devices from how many people have subscriptions with existing HBO, WarnerMedia and AT&T pay TV plans. The platform has no lack of high-quality content (Friends, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, DC Comics), but has struggled with noteworthy original content. To inspire sign-ups, it announced in November plans to simultaneously release the film Wonder Woman 1984 for streaming and in movie theaters—something it intends to do for all planned 2021 Warner Bros. films (including Dune and Matrix 4). Clearer marketing and continued co-release of films are the best bets to max its value.
  • Discovery+, the youngest combatant in the streaming wars, has already amassed 11 million subscribers on the strength of content bridging HGTV, Food Network, TLC, OWN, Travel Channel, Animal Planet, Discovery Channel and more. COVID-issues have also led to Chip and Joanna Gaines’ highly anticipated Magnolia Network content now debuting on digital ahead of its linear launch. While arguably a more niche player, Discovery+ stands to benefit in the long run from its popular content. There is no limit to what people will pay to watch someone else cook or upgrade a house.
  • This is the crowded field where Paramount+ finds itself, hanging onto 19.2 million subscribers combined from CBS All Access and Showtime. Content-wise, it hopes to capitalize on classics from its varied properties (CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET) like Star Trek, Spongebob SquarePants, Survivor and Paw Patrol, alongside reboots of popular series including Frasier, The Real World, MTV’s Behind the Music, and Criminal Minds. Taking a somewhat less aggressive approach to new movies than HBO Max, it will release 2021 originals 45 days after their theatrical release, with key drops highlighted by A Quiet Place 2, Mission Impossible 7 and Paw Patrol. One place it is well equipped to succeed is sports due to key contracts with the NFL and international soccer. With a content strategy built around recycling and nostalgia, it’ll take some big hits to become king of the mountain.

Is the Price Right?

While everyone’s in the same ballpark, pricing and subscription models do vary significantly. Three streamers have just one option: Prime Video ($12.99/month, $119/year), HBO Max ($14.99/month; ad-supported tier expected in 2021) and Apple TV+ ($4.99/month). Peacock is the only streamer offering both free and paid viewing, with nuanced options built around access to varying degrees of The Office content and sports. Hulu, Peacock, and Discovery+ all offer the choice of ads or no ads for a small upcharge; Paramount+ is going this route, too, at $4.99/month with ads and $9.99/month ad-free. Most attractive may be the Disney+/ESPN+/Hulu bundle at only $13.99/month.

Less Fragmentation, Fewer Ads

For advertisers, the streaming space presents both significant advantages and challenges as compared to linear TV. On the plus side, broadcasters have consolidated content into enticing bundles that alleviate some of the over-fragmentation of the linear/cable world. Hulu combines content from ABC, Disney, FOX, and—for now—NBC. HBO Max marries content from HBO and Warner Bros. Discovery+ merges 8 popular pay TV properties. And Paramount+ brings together classic CBS with Viacom’s family of premium TV offerings.

Where advertising is available, there also tends to be a much lower ad load. For consumers this means fewer ads to sit through, while for advertisers this allows for a greater share of voice. In some cases, platforms tout ad pods less than half as long as on linear. However with streaming audiences continuing to grow, and linear ones decreasing, only time will tell whether ad pods return to linear levels.

More important though is the fact that only a portion of the most popular streaming services are ad supported. Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ combined account for nearly half of all video streaming time spent. The other half is made up of YouTube (20%), Hulu (11%), and then all others. This means that it’s twice as hard to locate consumers via streaming as it is on linear. While this makes ad supported options like Paramount+ all the more valuable to marketers, it also reinforces the need for streamers to build robust subscriber counts.

As an ad-supported platform, Paramount+ has the potential to drive value for advertisers if and when audiences increase. With its ad-supported offering priced competitively compared to Hulu, Peacock, and Discovery+, it will come down to whether consumers see value in its content. Currently ad inventory is sold out for the remainder of 2021, with opportunities expected in early 2022. This either points to strong interest from advertisers or, more likely, limited scale. Advertisers should keep an eye on how things develop over the remainder of 2021 to determine whether Paramount+ belongs in their 2022 streaming plans.

A Tall Mountain to Climb

While ViacomCBS’s decision to rebrand makes sense when considering CBS All Access’s stalled position among its streaming brethren, Paramount+ has its work cut out for itself. It’s lost significant time as more focused competitors have built comparable content libraries with clearer branding and larger audiences. With a disparate collection of content, it very much lacks an identity.

Home Magazines Deliver DIY Inspiration and Trigger Sales
Long Live Home!

Home—and the time we spend there—has never been more valuable or relevant. We work, bake banana bread, do yoga, learn, and zoom with our friends. The extra time at home has led to increased interest in home improvement. Everyone wants their homes to be organized, multifunctional, and a retreat. People are taking on new projects because they have the time, finances, or aspiration to improve where they spend their days. DIY options not only revitalize spaces; they can provide a sense of satisfaction and reward while confined at home.

Magazines Inspire Purchase

Magazines remain a top source of inspiration for content, advice, décor, and products. In the past six months, 91% of U.S. Adults read a magazine, making the readership diverse and wide-reaching. Magazines remain resilient in the shelter category because of their unique benefits:

  1. Trusted – magazines are curated by dedicated editors to deliver the best of the best. Ideas and projects have been tested and vetted by specialists, providing a sense of trust that the Internet can sometimes lack.
  2. Relaxing – sitting down with a magazine can be a moment of escape. Magazines can stimulate emotion and trigger readers to try new things and help make purchase decisions.
  3. Revisit – readers save their issues to revisit when they need an inspiration boost or as different articles become relevant as new projects arise.

How Publishers are Capitalizing on the DIY Trend

This month, Conde Nast and Architectural Digest announced the launch of AD-IY and its accompanying Council. Architectural Digest’s newest talent of home experts will instruct their audience in all things AD It Yourself. They’ll provide step-by-step directions to remove mystery and build confidence around all things home and life. Each Council Member will create a “Guide To” that will live across digital, video, social, and print. Advertisers will have the opportunity to sponsor a category and receive branded content featuring the Council Member.

Hearst’s House Beautiful launched “My Home Project” where expert editors will curate simple guides breaking down any home improvement task into digestible steps. Brands can align with this home content that spans from tips to spruce up a living room to step-by-step advice for the big projects on readers’ to-do lists.

Good Housekeeping also joined the DIY bandwagon with “The Design Personality Playbook”. They believe that how we design our nests is a manifestation of our unique personalities. With that in mind, the editors at Good Housekeeping will work with their favorite designers to pull together whole-home mood boards that cater to any type of consumer. The mood boards will bring each look to life, designed to be saved by readers for inspiration.

In 2021 HGTV Magazine will celebrate its 10th Birthday and the book is as relevant as ever. Each issue shows readers that the home is in a constant state of evolution. There’s always something that could be improved upon, and what’s been decorated can always be redecorated. COVID has amplified the desire for home improvement and readers know that HGTV Magazine is a place to turn when looking for a mini makeover.

In today’s vast media landscape, shelter publications have proved their staying power as sources of fresh and entertaining content that translates to reliability and trust. For brands within the home category, it’s important to consider adding print to your media mix to influence purchase through inspiration. To make the biggest splash, consider running custom content that aligns with an editorial theme as those tend to resonate best with readers. For non-endemic advertisers, running in shelter print titles would be a great foray into the world of DIY and home improvement. Now is the time to reach consumers when they’re thinking about their most important place – home.