Ad Love: CVS and #BetheFirst

Drugstore giant CVS Health and its foundation plan to spend $50 million over five years to bolster anti-smoking efforts with a particular emphasis on young people.

The company recently announced plans to fund Be The First, a campaign that draws its colloquial inspiration from a goal to form the first generation of Americans to spurn tobacco.

The push comes more than a year after CVS stopped selling cigarettes, saying that smoking conflicts with its mission of promoting healthy living. CVS and the CVSHealth Foundation will share the costs of the campaign. Be The First will emphasize education programs, social media and marketing initiatives through groups such as the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, Scholastic Inc., the American Cancer Society and the National Urban League.

Cigarettes and secondhand smoke cause cancer and other preventable diseases.

CVS set several concrete goals for the five-year campaign: cutting the national youth smoking rate by 3%, reducing the number of new youth smokers by 10% and doubling the number of college campuses that ban tobacco usage.

Check it out:

Some Airlines Actually Care.

You’ve seen me banter back and forth with airline carrier Jet Blue. Part of the reason I use them is because they have a great customer service and social customer care acumen.

Recently, GetAirHelp, a legal service that seeks compensation for passengers when a flight has been canceled or delayed, released a survey ranking 34 airlines, not only on performance and delays, but on whether — and how quickly — those airlines are willing to settle up with passengers seeking compensation.

The highest ratings go to Qatar Airways and KLM, while easyJet and SATA International (a Portuguese airline) bring up the rear, according to AirHelp’s survey. The three American companies that were ranked fall solidly in the middle, with Delta leading the way, followed by United and American.


To use AirHelp’s service, fliers enter the details of a delayed or canceled flight online and AirHelp initiates a claim with the airline.

To date, the business says it has helped nearly 350,000 people file claims and collect more than $33 million in compensation. Along the way, the service has amassed vast amounts of data, which informed the latest survey. The survey ranked the airlines on the following:

• Quality performance, using the scores of Skytrax, an international research organization that publishes independent reviews and ratings of airlines.

• Delay performance, based on departure times in the fourth quarter of 2015.

• Claim processing, using data based on how an airline handles and processes claims, including wrongful rejection of claims.

Here are the 10 top-ranking airlines and their AirHelp scores. I wonder why Jet Blue didn’t make the cut?:

1. Qatar Airways, 8.9
2. KLM, 8.5
3. Air Baltic, 8.2
4. Air France, 8.2
5. Lufthansa, 8.2
6. Air Canada, 8
7. Emirates, 7.9
8. Croatia Airlines, 7.9
9. British Airways, 7.8
10. Finnair, 7.8

Here are the American rankings:

15. Delta, 7.6
20. United, 7.4
21. American, 7.35

Here are the bottom 10:

25. Norwegian Air Shuttle, 7.1
26. Icelandair, 7
27. Alitalia, 7
28. Iberia, 7
29. Aer Lingus, 6.8
30. TAP Portugal, 6.8
31. Swiss, 6.4
32. Virgin Atlantic, 6.2
33. easyJet, 5.8
34. SATA International, 5.2

It’s Lit (thanks to Akon).

One of the first celebrity philanthropic projects I worked on was over a decade ago under the helm of Senegalese -American R&B singer, Akon. It was with the Konfidence Foundation which concentrates its efforts in Senegal and West Africa to empower individuals, communities and nations.

It’s great to see that he’s still dedicated to doing great work.

Recently, Akon launched an ambitious project to provide millions of Africans with electricity through a groundbreaking solar power initiative: Solar Academy. The academy, scheduled to open in the Mali capital of Bamako, will train locals to install and maintain solar-powered equipment.

The Solar Academy is under the umbrella of the singer’s Akon Lighting Africa (ALA) initiative, launched in 2014 to bring solar power to Africans who currently live off the grid. Akon’s ALA initiative, in partnership with Give1Project and ADS Global Corporation SA, has already provided solar power to more than 1 million households. ALA has installed solar-powered streetlights in more than 11 countries on the continent.

The initiative includes installing solar-powered streetlights and residential solar systems in African villages, as well as solar tailored equipment in households. There are an estimated 600 million people in Africa who live without electricity.  Twenty-five African countries are experiencing an energy crisis, according to the World Bank.

Take a look:

Nas Lends a Hand (and Diversity) to Tech

A new fund is being created by General Assembly, a private New York City technical school, which has the goal of addressing the lack of minority representation in the tech sphere. Dubbed,”The Opportunity Fund,” it will offer scholarships to women, veterans, African-Americans, and Latinos, all groups who have historically and systematically been denied equal access to the sciences. Nas, who has stepped up his involvement in the tech world in recent months, is joining Google, Microsoft, and Hirepurpose as one of the fund’s backers.

Nas’ QueensBridge Venture Partners project will provide the funds for scholarships to African-Americans and Latinos, while Google will fund women and Microsoft and Hirepurpose will pay for veterans to attend the school.

The New York rapper, with several platinum albums and Grammy nominations under his belt, is gaining cred as a tech investor. QueensBridge Venture Partners has backed start-ups from Dropbox to Meerkat to Lyft. The firm is also backs Walker & Co Brands, of which I am a fan. Here’s more about that company:


Netflix Gives $100 Mil to Support Education

Netflix founder and chief executive Reed Hastings, a longtime supporter of charter schools, is creating a $100 million foundation for education, he announced on his Facebook page earlier in the week.

The Hastings Fund launched with grants totaling $1.5 million to the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley and UNCF scholarship funds, donations meant to help minority students access college.

According to the fund’s website, the aim is to, “partner with communities to significantly increase the number of students who have access to rich and holistic educational experiences.”  netflixlogowide

The fund’s chief executive is Neerav Kingsland, a charter-school proponent who previously led New Schools for New Orleans. The nonprofit played a key role in shaping the city’s post-Hurricane Katrina educational system, in which more than 90 percent of children attend charter schools.

Hastings joins the likes of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, tech billionaires interested in using their money to improve education. Critics have accused them of using their money to reshape education according to their own ideas, circumventing the democratic process.

Find out more about the Hastings Fund here.

Ad Love: Oreo Tackles Diversity By Opening Up.

Oreo is making the world a better place as it launches a global campaign urging people to “Open Up” to new people and experiences—a message of diversity and tolerance delivered first in a 30-second spot with vocals by musician Adam Lambert.

That spot, called “Rolling Wonder,” was released earlier this week. The campaign, which includes digital content, point-of-sale and global prizing, will roll out to more than 50 countries worldwide during the first half of 2016.

“Open Up with Oreo” is based off the idea that children are naturally open, and only as we get older do we close ourselves off.

Also on Monday, the brand introduced the Oreo Wonder Vault, a fancifully imagined place where new Oreo flavors are dreamed up and stored. Two U.S. flavors of Oreo are being released this month: returning flavor Red Velvet, and new flavor Cinnamon Bun. A third limited-edition flavor is expected shortly that Oreo promises will be “unlike anything we’ve done before.”

Yum – I’m into Rolling Wonder! Nostalgia is showing up super-strong in the spot. Take a look at the spot and check out the Vault as well:

 Update! Turns out, the Wonder Vault is real!

The Kimoji App is #Bible

I am a Kim Kardashian fan. Judge now – I don’t care.

Seriously, the woman and her marketing machine are brilliant. I admittedly was hooked on the Kim Kardashian’s Hollywood game and considered buying her book of selfies (it’s in my Amazon shopping cart at present). She’s done it again with her Kimoji App which takes classy/ratchet to a whole ‘nother level.

Just in time for the holidays, we will receive some of the cutest emojis EVER for less than 3 bucks. I tell no lies. Look:

There are others but they are too ratchet for me to share here. If you haven’t downloaded them already, do so. Like now.

Ad Love: Apple’s Someday at Christmas

For months, retailers from Starbucks to Walgreens have been trying to get me in the holiday spirit.  I believe Apple has succeeded with their latest ad.

In it, the legendary Stevie Wonder croons his classic, Someday at Christmas, alongside one of my favorite new artists, Andra Day. The result is stunning. Check it:

Thanks for Being Kind.

Kind bars are yummy – there’s no doubt about that. What makes them even yummy-er is that they are tied to acts of being a good person.

Since 2013, every employee at Kind has taken part in a, “secret initiative.” If they spotted a random act of kindness—like a stranger holding the door to a coffee shop, or sharing directions on the subway—they could hand out a little black card. It acknowledged the little moment of humanity, and as a gift, the card was good for a free Kind bar.

As of last week, #kindawesome cards were handed out to anyone by anyone in the world. The system relies on a new digital platform. You spot an act of kindness, then you head to From there, you can send a virtual card via Facebook, email, or Twitter.

Once redeemed, the good samaritan is mailed both a Kind snack and his or her own, digital #kindawesome card to pass along. The design of the cards copy Kind’s black and four-color packaging. Previously, Kind cards had a pay it forward mandate—”You’ve Been Kinded, Pass It On”—with the expectation that, once you received a card, you’d then do a kind act for someone else. Now, the cards have been rebranded as a reward, instead.

Check out this video for more: