PRNEWS GRADES: Brand Creations for the Week of May 17

[Editor's Note: The PRNEWS staff encounters many examples of brand communications. Each week we compile an assessment of some of the best and not-so-great examples. Our intent is to provide a learning experience about what works or doesn't. You can find last week's examples here.]

Sophie Maerowitz, senior content manager

Instagram Shop Reveal: B+

Instagram has been closing in on e-commerce domination for some time now, having abandoned a standalone shopping app in 2018, as The Verge's Casey Newton pointed out. With in-app checkout added last year, it came one step closer. On May 19, Instagram announced the launch of Shops, which allow businesses to set up e-commerce pages directly within Instagram and Facebook's apps. Although the platform charges a service fee for purchases, and will no doubt be raking in major ad dollars as more businesses sign on, Facebook was smart to tie the effort to pandemic relief. CEO Mark Zuckerberg pointed to the boom in e-commerce that followed shuttering of brick-and-mortars due to COVID-19. And a day before the launch, the company shared results of its joint survey with Small Business Roundtable, which found 31 percent of small businesses are closed as a result of the crisis. (It never hurts to point to the data, should things go pear-shaped.) Hopefully, the social monolith has a communications strategy in place should Shops’ service fee profits come under scrutiny, a practice which has put Grubhub in the hot seat in recent months.

Mark Renfree, event content manager

Audible: A

The audiobook and podcast platform is giving back to its home city of Newark, N.J., by handing out thousands of meals to those in need and helping local businesses. Audible has already given out more than $1 million of free food to residents — all supplied by 18 local restaurants and paid for by the company. To date, more than 100,000 meals have been given out by Audible in Newark. They’ve also partnered with local programs to offer free guidance and resources on how local business owners can navigate funding in response to COVID-19. This program is only the latest in a long history of Audible giving back to the city of Newark and its residents. If companies are increasingly expected to be good neighbors, Audible is leading by example.

Seth Arenstein, editor

Latisse with Rory: A confusing B

This 30-second commercial was a stumper. The music’s great, so’s the footage. But what’s the product? And who or what are Rory and Latisse? I had no idea what was being advertised. The commercial urges viewers to go to I was curious, so I did. Turns out Latisse is a prescription product to lengthen eyelashes. Rory delivers it once it’s been prescribed. Clarity is a hallmark of communication. In this case, though, mystery worked. I bit on the CTA. Sure, if you know what Latisse is, the commercial is fine. Still, how many uninitiated viewers will remember from the ad and head to the site? And how many will wonder why the ad fails to clarify what product is being advertised and dismiss the whole thing as a hoax?