Tis the Season for Cute Christmas Spots: Lonely Hedgehog Finds a Squad

It’s unclear what the connection to banking is, but the cuteness cannot be denied.

Via AdAge:

German banking group Erste worked with animators at Passion Pictures to bring to life adorable woodland creatures in this heart-tugging Christmas ad.

It’ tells the sad tale of a hedgehog who’s ostracized because of his spikes — nobody wants to sit next to him on the bus, play with him or even kick a football around as they always get in the way. Eventually, the other animals come up with an ingenious solution (although we’re not quite sure if it’s environmentally sound) and he finally gets to feel some holiday love.

Passion directors Kyra & Constantin worked with Jung von Matt/Donau on the film, bringing a tactile and “fuzzy” feel to the CGI characters.

While it’s doesn’t seem to have much to do with banking, it’s a charming story, and the tagline “believe in yourself” is one that everyone can appreciate at this time of year.

Source: AdAge

Why Its Hot: A good spot is a good spot.  Sometimes brands may not think their brand lends itself to emotional storytelling, but a good idea will draw people in introduce new people into the conversation. I think this spot will have a lot of people asking, “What is Erste?” this holiday season.

 

Burger King Trolls McDonalds, Gets 1 Million App Downloads.

The Art of the Troll. #Petty

Burger King got national attention this week for offering 1-cent Whoppers to those who drove up to a McDonald’s location (and then, presumably, drove away to redeem their BK coupons). Key to the stunt was the brand’s smartphone app, which unlocked the offer when it detected users approaching within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.

The “Whopper Detour” sent customers to a rival’s doorstep, and it worked, in terms of both publicity and app downloads.

Burger King today said its app was downloaded more than 1 million times since Whopper Detour launched on Tuesday, and the app is currently No. 1 among free software in the Apple App Store. That puts Burger King’s app, for now at least, above app giants like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon.

(The McDonald’s app, in case you’re curious, is currently at No. 42.)

Why It’s Hot:

Brands trolling other brands has become a sure fire way to go viral, this uses brand trolling in conjunction with location based apps to drive people to a competitor and it worked to drive sales and app downloads.

 

Source: AdWeek https://www.adweek.com/creativity/after-trolling-mcdonalds-burger-kings-app-was-downloaded-1-million-times-and-hit-no-1/ 

The new home security outfit: Drones

The home security industry is about to be disrupted by drones. Startup Sunflower Labs has developed a personal home surveillance drone aimed at a med- to low- density target market (think: Suburban America). The idea is that with a drone monitoring your property 24/7 will serve as more of a deterrent to potential threats/intruders/etc than a traditional home security system that has no real deterrent function.

Here’s how it works, from The Verge: “Part of the Sunflower system involves the Sunflowers, the small, roughly 1.5-meter bulbs filled with sensors that are disguised as garden lights. “The sensors can detect people, pets, and cars. Vibration sensors detect footsteps, car engines… even if you’re running a coffee maker.” The Sunflowers are placed around the home to help create a map and triangulate people and other objects within the space. But the real draw of the Sunflower system is the drone that flies itself. The drone is called the Bee, and its base station is called the Hive.”

WHY IT’S HOT:

Sunflower Labs represents a new type of drone company – they specialize less in the physical hardware or camera technology, and have more of a focus on the application of the technology.  They are exploring the possibilities of what this technology provides to a consumer to solve for a specific need. As they develop both consumer and commercial business models (they already have investment from Stanley Black & Decker) Sunflower is “taking advantage of the fast-maturing drone market to sell the promise of aerial video surveillance to both the home consumer and the security industry at large.”

SOURCE: https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/7/18129308/sunflower-labs-system-drone-surveillance-bee-hive-home-security-startup

 

Know how Organic, Non-GMO, Sustainable Your Tech Is

Much like we look for labels to help guide our food choices, we will now be able to know how much data your connected device is sharing. How are you supposed to know which smart lightbulb you can trust?

Enter the Trustable Technology Mark. It’s like being certified organic, but for the Internet of Things. Supported by the Mozilla Foundation, NYU Law, the University of Dundee, and other institutions, the trustmark–a phrase for a logo that signifies a certification of some kind–aims to recognize companies building connected devices that have stellar data and privacy practices, are transparent and secure, and have some guarantee of longevity.

In a world awash with sketchy technology that doesn’t communicate how personal data is being used, the Trustable Tech Mark is a way to give kudos to companies that are actually operating responsibly. Right now, there’s no way for consumers to know which products won’t put their data at risk–nor for companies to prove that they’re trustworthy.

Why Its Hot: Visibility into tech could perhaps hasten adoption amongst the last tech holdouts.

Source: FastCo

Facebook Testing Ability to Let Users Block Certain Words

Facebook looks to be testing a new option that would give users more control over the content which appears, or can appear, on their personal profiles, with a new keyword blocking feature that would eliminate comments which include specific terms from your stream.

Spotted by Facebook code hacker Jane Manchun Wong, who regularly discovers upcoming social network additions, the new option, as you can see here, would enable users to choose whatever keyword/s they didn’t want to appear within the comment streams on their personal posts. Those comments would still be visible to the poster and their connections, but not to anyone outside of that, which is similar to how comment hiding works.

The option is much the same as personal comment filtering tools available on both Instagram and Twitter and would help to provide an extra level of reassurance to those who are having trouble with trolls and/or harassment – or who simply don’t want to see particular comments.

Already on Facebook, Page admins can block chosen keywords from appearing in post comments, while you can also mute certain keywords for a selected period of time to avoid seeing any updates about a chosen topic.

Facebook hasn’t officially announced this new feature as yet, but as noted, Wong regularly uncovers new additions well ahead of launch time.

3 Online Holiday Shopping Predictions

Online Holiday Shopping Will Hit New Heights
Consumers will spend $124.1 billion online this holiday season in the U.S., which accounts for nearly $1 of $6 spent shopping overall during the November-December period, ADI forecasts. That’s 14.8% YoY growth.

Mobile Will Be Key In Influencing And Driving Holiday Revenue  
Fifty-seven percent of retail visits will come from mobile devices (tablets and smartphones), accounting for 37% of total online purchases, ADI predicts. Indeed, Schreiner said, “commerce has moved beyond any storefront and into the hands of consumers.”

Drilling down, ADI predicts nearly half (48%) of all visits to retail websites will come from smartphones. And 27% of all online revenue will come from those smartphone visits. Tablets are on the decline, and will account for 9% and 10%, respectively.

The Hottest Products Will Go Fast
Just 1% of product SKUs will drive 70% of online holiday sales, according to ADI. For comparison purposes, 1% of product SKUs typically drive 54% of online sales on an average day.

Spending Green

Swedish fintech startup Doconomy launched the first of these tools: DO, a credit card that tracks the carbon footprint of everything you buy, with a goal to “future-proof planet earth.”

Each purchase’s environmental impact is logged in the DO app. It includes in terms of how much CO2 and how much cash you should donate to charities to counteract the damage. By that it means it will provide people with the tools they need to make eco-friendly choices as easily as possible.

Why it’s hot

Doconomy removes the need for consumers to rely on brands’ sustainability claims. Instead an algorithm will assess their purchases and the user can decide whether they want to repeat them – becoming more aware and knowledgeable in the process.

Teach safety from disaster

Volkswagen in Australia created fake videos of pranks and stunts going wrong and participants only narrowly missing disastrous injuries as part of a campaign to highlight its cars’ safety features.

In one film, someone sits inside a tyre tube and rolls down a hill, towards a road. The hapless joker looks set to hit an oncoming vehicle but miraculously the car (a VW Polo) brakes in time and calamity is avoided.

The unbranded film was viewed more than 38 million times as well as being featured on US TV show Right This Minute, which airs viral videos.

Volkswagen later posted to its social channels a video revealing that the original film was a hoax to promote the Polo’s emergency city brake feature.

Other films in the Unfail series show a virtual reality demonstration going wrong and a freak water-slide accident.

Why its hot?
Using the psychology of fail videos to promote safety features.
Since, only 4% of young people care about safety and 68% people of general have no idea about safety features of their car, VW tricked people into watching its content through fail videos

 

Light Up Dr. Bear

Despite Children’s Hospital renowned success, they still struggle to bring in donations year after year. So this year, they turned to creative partner SmithGifford to help solve this problem of donor fatigue.

The solution? Light-up bears (the unofficial mascot of Children’s National) are placed strategically around the city where by a simple text donation, anyone can donate $10. The delight is that your texted donation lights up both the bear in front of you and a bear in the room of a child staying at Children’s, completing that necessary feedback element of knowing the impact of a donation.

Why It’s Hot

Rather than tugging at the heart strings (solely) the way many giving campaigns do, this one gives both the donor and patients feedback as the donations are happening. Plus, wouldn’t you pay a small price to see the Dr. Bear light up and know you gave to a worthy cause?

A demographic snapshot of Post-Millennials or Gen Z

New data from the Pew Research Center gives us a demographic breakdown of the newest generation many marketers will be targeting, if they’re not currently targeting them.

The oldest members of this generation have already reached adulthood.

The generations defined

Nearly half of them are non-white, they’re more likely to attend college than previous generations, and their own parents are more likely to be college educated than previous generations as well.

Nearly half of post-Millennials are racial or ethnic minorities

They’re significantly more likely to be Hispanic than previous generations, slightly more Asian, and noticeably less likely to be white.

One-in-four post-Millennials are Hispanic

They’re more likely to have foreign-born parents than millennials are, but slightly less likely to be foreign-born than millennials were in 2002.

Post-Millennials, especially Hispanics, are less likely than Millennials to be foreign born

Why It’s Hot: Gen Zs are a unique generation like any other and understanding them demographically and psychographically will be important as more marketers begin to target them.

Source: http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2018/11/15/early-benchmarks-show-post-millennials-on-track-to-be-most-diverse-best-educated-generation-yet/

A Smart Restaurant

Haidilao, China’s biggest hotpot chain, partnered with Panasonic and equipped a restaurant in Beijing with a fully robot-run kitchen. That means no humans are involved in the food preparation process.

The location has an automated cold room where robots prepare and deliver raw meat and fresh vegetables according to the orders placed by customers through an iPad at each table.

The soup base is also prepared by robots with machine-like precision that caters to individual tastes and specific requirements based on special combination of spices, various oil and key ingredients. Each individual combination is automatically documented and uploaded into the cloud.

Why it’s hot: These robots reduce wait time, adds consistency and increases the level of food hygiene.

Source

Voice Fraud Prevention

Voice is becoming a major interface for consumers to communicate with machines, fueled by the rise of artificial intelligence and the explosion of new voice assistant devices in the space. As a result, a new area of opportunity has emerged for malicious hackers in the area of voice fraud. A security startup called Pindrop is building software to protect our vocal identities. Security Magazine asserts that the rate of voice fraud grew 350% from 2013 to 2017 with no signs of slowing. Voice fraud increased by 47% between 2016 and 2017 alone. As we continue to use phones and voice assistants to do more complex tasks (disable home security systems, open a new credit card), hackers have more opportunities to infiltrate our private info.

Pindrop just raised a $90M Series D to develop voice “fingerprinting” tech that analyzes “1,400 acoustic attributes” to verify a call or a voice command. This platform claims to be able to  identify even the most sophisticated impersonations and hacking attempts. Not only is this going to keep kids from ordering toys and candy from their parents’ Alexas, but more importantly, it will stop hackers from order stuff on Amazon or even commanding your smart home to unlock your front door. The funding is going to help Pindrop expand from customer service scenarios — the vast majority of its business today — into any applications that use voice interfaces; connected car platforms, home security devices, smart offices and smart home speakers. Pindrop works with call centers in eight of the top ten US banks to identify phone scams using unique audio characteristics and signifiers like type of device, carrier, and location to identify repeat callers and repeat scammers.

Why it’s hot: This type of ‘trend adjacent’ technology will ultimately allow us to use our voices instead of passwords and fingerprints (or having to remember your first pet’s name or favorite high school teacher security questions).

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/05/pindrop-raises-90m-to-bring-its-voice-fraud-prevention-to-iot-devices-and-europe/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=newsletter_axiosprorata&stream=top

 

Drink beer while you pee in a hotel shower

A Scottish brewery named Brewdog has opened a hotel on their premises. The hotel is called The Doghouse and a location just opened in Columbus, OH.

Check it out on their website here.

Why It’s Hot

If you spend a few days a week morning drinking then it’s probably your dream come true. For most of us it’s an interesting experiment hospitality marketing.

Finding the space for brands in the world of voice

HBO has created applications — known as “skills” on the Amazon Echo devices — to promote its shows and characters. This year, it introduced Westworld: The Maze, a choose-your-own-adventure-style game for superfans of “Westworld.” (A dramatic trailer for the game ends with a narrator intoning, “Alexa — open Westworld.”) More recently, it introduced a skill starring characters from its new show from Sesame Workshop, “Esme & Roy,” in which children can use the speaker to answer questions and play along. Both games can be played without the aid of screens.

Unilever has created a recipes skill under its Hellmann’s label, while Procter & Gamble has introduced features from Tide and Oral-B. Those using the Tide application can ask Alexa how to remove juice or grass stains from clothing, while Oral-B’s offers a tooth-brushing timer.

On Google Home, where the term “skills” is replaced by “actions,” Estée Lauder has one for personalized beauty advice and Disney has some games for children.

Marketers have been rushing to figure out where their brands fit in a world populated by voice assistants and smart speakers. While questions remain about privacy and security, data from Comscore in October showed that more than 20 million homes in the United States, or 22 percent of those with Wi-Fi, use the devices. By 2022, more than half of American homes will have a smart speaker, according to Juniper Research.

“We feel like this voice-based interaction is not going away,” Ms. Caluori said. “It’s starting with speakers, but it’ll very quickly be TVs and cars and all these other places.”

The “Esme & Roy” skill, which was created with Sesame Workshop, showed the potential for smart speakers with children and their parents. Amazon has been seeking child-friendly voice applications, particularly now that it sells an Echo device meant for children, Ms. Caluori said. At the same time, she said, young parents such as herself are keen on smart speakers, partly because they’re a screen-free alternative to tablets and phones.

Marketers say the data they are getting back from Amazon and Google has been relatively thin so far. It can include the amount of time people spent engaging with a skill and the number of sessions that were started and completed, Ms. Klaassen of 360i said.

Ms. Reubenstein said her firm typically got basic data on which questions to Alexa were completed or not. But once, in a meeting with Amazon, the firm briefly got a deeper look, seeing snippets of queries for one client’s Alexa skill that showed how customers can still be easily frustrated when navigating a voice application.

“We started seeing a lot of cuss words in the user flow,” said Ms. Reubenstein, who declined to name the client. She said they were able to identify at what point most users were getting frustrated and adjusted the skill to address the issue.

These are still early days for marketing on voice devices. Ms. Reubenstein compared it to when brands began making apps for mobile devices. But over time, she said, voice interactions will begin to replace many of the activities that people are conducting on screens.

WHY IT’S HOT

It is still early for marketing on voice devices – but we’ve seen creative efforts this year from brands who’ve experimented in the space. Gary Vaynerchuk even hosted the first-ever ‘VoiceCon’ focused on the rise of voice and digital audio. With the increasing importance of ‘voice’, it will be exciting to see where it goes in 2019 and how we can utilize this thinking for our clients as we define their customers’ experiences.

Lyft broadens its transportation scope; debuts new bike share design

Lyft has finalized its acquisition of the bike share company Motivate, and has launched the design of its new bike.  The company announced the acquisition in July, “saying Lyft would acquire Motivate’s technology and corporate functions and the company would be known as Lyft Bikes. (cnet).

The ride sharing program will allow bikes to be reserved through its app, in an effort on the heels of its carbon neutrality pledge and increased initiative to offset the documented stress put on cities by ride sharing services.

WHY IT’S HOT: 

Motivate Exec Chairmain Steve Koch says: “How we get around cities is changing rapidly, and the combination of Lyft and Motivate will bring tremendous new resources and energy to making sure that bikeshare plays a fundamental role in the new urban mobility,” … “Together, we believe that integrating our services in partnership with the public sector will transform the urban transportation landscape, increase bike ridership, and make our cities better.”

Throwing the gauntlet to Uber!

SOURCE: https://techcrunch.com/2018/11/29/lyfts-pink-wheeled-shareable-bikes-will-be-available-to-rent-soon/

A New Kind of e-Tail

Good, Cheap and Fast (GCF for short), is an e-tail website designed to take the effort out of e-shopping.

Source: https://www.fastcompany.com/90274504/hate-browsing-amazon-this-is-the-ultimate-no-frills-shopping-site

To that end, the site doesn’t waste effort on frills like “bandwidth-hogging images” or “spill[ing] 10,000 words of digital ink on…mundane appliances.” To DeFeo–a former designer–the job to be done here is simple: “save people time,” he says. Thus GCF’s Craigslist-esque, all-text aesthetic. (It does have nicer fonts, though.)

GFC’s design is based on the philosophy that not everyone is a maximizer: people who, intimidated by the internet’s abundance of options they want to know which one is the best. Who they are targeting is users who they call “satisficers” – people who just want something good enough without breaking the bank.

The site is curated by using a combination of existing shopping tools and plugins that filter out suspicious or spammy product reviews and then eliminates more by “measuring the relationship between 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5-star reviews, with an eye toward quality control issues.”

Why It’s Hot: 

Sometimes we need to remember that less is more.

We don’t have enough time left

A Spanish liquor brand has created a holiday campaign to remind people how little time they have left to spend with those they love.

Ruavieja’s seasonal campaign is called Tenemos Que Vernos Mas (We Have To See More Of Each Other).

The campaign is led by a four-minute online film that is framed like a social experiment. Friends and family members are asked about their relationship, how often they see each other and their respective ages. The interviewer then uses this information to calculate how much time they will spend together before (statistically) one of them will die. When the answers are revealed in days and hours many of the participants are shocked and begin to cry.

At the end, the ad then juxtaposes the time people typically have left to spend with loved ones with how long they will spend doing meaningless activities. For instance, over a 40-year period, people on average spend six years watching TV and eight years on the internet (admittedly, the internet figure could also encompass communicating with loved ones), according to the ad.

Ruavieja has also created a website where users can enter their details and see how much time they have left to spend with their loved ones.

Why it’s hot

A human insight brought to life with data. It’s the perfect marriage of data and emotion as they used data that moved people to tears.

Source: Contagious

 

Payless performs a social experiment for PR and advertising

Shoe retailer Payless recently took over a former Armani store in Santa Monica, CA, stocked it with Payless products, and then invited fashion influencers to attend a “party” celebrating the store’s opening.

These influencers were made to believe that they were attending a store opening for a new high-end designer called “Palessi”.

These influencers paid between $200 and $600 for Payless shoes traditionally priced between $20 and $40. Many called their purchases “sophisticated” or “made with high quality materials”.

Of course, later, all the influencers that made purchases did get back the full amounts and got to keep the shoes.

Why it’s hot: It’s easy to fool anyone with the right marketing, branding, and positioning. And Payless had the opportunity to prove that its very affordable shoes could pass off as high-end designer shoes.

Source

This Cafe is Staffed By Robots Remotely Controlled By People with Disabilities

A new Tokyo cafe is staffed by robots that are remotely controlled by people with severe physical disabilities.

The cafe, which has the catchy name of Dawn ver.β, utilizes five OriHime-D robot waiters, which take orders and serve food at the cafe. The high-tech radio-controlled robots are designed so people with disabilities, spinal cord injuries, or diseases like ALS can operate them from home. They transmit audio and video footage wirelessly to the robot’s controller, who can direct them via tablets or computers.

This iteration of the cafe is only temporary, closing on December 7, but the partners hope to launch a permanent cafe before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and come up with new ways to promote employment assistance for people with disabilities.

The cafe stems from a collaboration between the Nippon Foundation, ANA Holdings Inc., and Ory Lab Inc., who makes the robots. The idea was to help get people stuck at home back into the workforce, offering part-time jobs and minimum wage (1,000 yen per hour) and some independence, too.

 

Marie Claire Ventures into E-commerce

Marie Claire magazine has launched Marie Claire Edit – a shopping experience curated by their fashion editors. The e-commerce platform features brands including NET-A-PORTER,  ASOS, Topshop, and many more.

The idea of the site is to give Marie Claire readers a place to shop where all the items are current, on-trend and paired with pro styling tips. Products are pulled together in themes like, “The major knits to wear right now,” “These Christmas jumpers prove you can be festive AND chic” and “The checked blazer upgrades you’ll need this season.” So the editorial voice of Marie Claire remains, but the collections are lighter on text, with shopping truly the main focus.

Marie Claire Edit also plans to work closely with designers. Their future vision includes housing exclusive interviews and major product launch news.

Why It’s Hot

As print magazines continue to look for new ways to stay relevant and profitable, Marie Claire is taking a big step in a new direction for publishers.

Source: https://www.retaildive.com/news/marie-claire-magazine-unveils-content-driven-e-commerce-site/542874/

Yeti’s Wild 10-Year Party

Yeti celebrated its Tundra coolers’ 10th birthday by throwing a party. But it wasn’t your average, expected, self-referential brand party full of champagne and celebrities. Instead, Yeti set out on a ten city tour where they featured a film about stories from the wild.

Yeti’s heritage has always been serving their customers, the wild ones, as they call them — the outdoors men and women who live for the adventure in life by spending a lot of time outside. And this film series hero’ed these ambassadors, how they live their lives and what makes them come alive. It’s a tactic Yeti uses often, a story well told, but it’s one that works and is now an essential element their brand.

Why It Was Hot 

The idea of this birthday celebration is so perfectly Yeti. It’s not just about their brand, it is their brand made into a birthday celebration.

But the bigger story, I think, is the word-of-mouth-marketing aspect of it. It’s an anecdote from my own life, but I think it’s a strong point that I heard about this film tour from a friend of mine who has seen me carry a Yeti rambler for the better part of a year. And simply, she just thought I would like to know about it.

There’s something so interesting about being a strong, modern brand that lives an analog life on purpose to include every part of the customer’s journey with the brand.

Google is teaming up with public libraries

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Man, I love libraries (and the Juno filter)

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Google is teaming up with public libraries expand its Grow with Google network. Google and the American Library Association are launching the Libraries Ready to Code website, an online resource for libraries to teach coding and computational thinking to kids. The collaboration kicked off last June with pilot programs in 30 libraries across the United States. Now their “by libraries, for libraries” hub is open to all 120,000 libraries across the country, where library staff can choose the programs that are most relevant to their communities.

Google is also getting more involved with libraries. Starting in January, its Grow with Google workshops will be available in libraries in all 50 states, helping more people launch careers in IT by spending more time in more libraries. The workshops will teach digital skills that can help jobseekers and small businesses get involved with Grow with Google’s IT development tools and earn IT certificates. It will also offer library staff an IT and web dev curriculum they can use for free.

Finally, Google announced a $1 million sponsorship to the American Library Association, to create a pool of micro-funds that local libraries can access to bring digital skills training to their community, starting with an initial group of 250 libraries that will receive funding to support coding activities during Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 3 -9.

Why it’s hot: Go Google!

Source: FastCo 

What is in a Word?

“The Oxford Word of the Year is a word or expression that is judged to reflect the ethos, mood, or preoccupations of the passing year, and have lasting potential as a term of cultural significance,” Oxford stated in a post on its website.

 

With a 45% increase in searches, this year the word “toxic” takes the prize. In combination with chemical first and masculinity second, the word is top of mind for people. With the rise of the #metoo movement, it’s no surprise this year word searches seem to be all about strained relationships between men and women with spikes in searches for words like:

incel”—an involuntarily celibate man who holds hostile views towards women; “gaslighting”—a form of psychological manipulation that makes the victim doubt their own sanity, made famous by a movie in which a man does this to his own wife; and “orbiting,” which is when a person ceases communication (i.e: “ghosts”) but continues to lurk via social media, maintaining “an online presence in the subject’s life without any promise of meaningful interaction.”

To give some perspective, 2018’s word of the year is in great contrast with 2015’s, when the word of the year was:

Image result for smile cry emoji

Why it’s hot:

It’s sad, but also optimistic. It means we live in toxic times (sad) but at least we’re trying to educate ourselves and hopefully make a change (optimistic).

Uber introduces rider loyalty program after Lyft announces one

The Uber rewards program is available this week for users in NYC metro area, New Jersey, Denver, Tampa, Miami, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Atlanta, and San Diego; and Uber promises it will roll out to all U.S. riders in the next few months.

Uber has also set up different status levels for its customers: Blue, Gold, Platinum, and Diamond. Every six months, an individual’s Uber points are tallied and at 500, 2,500, 7,500 points respectively, they jump to the next tier for the next six months.

Since the program looks at your ride history from the past six months, by the time you’re enrolled in the program you might be Gold, Platinum, or Diamond status to start.

You’ll get one point for every dollar spent on Uber Pool rides and Uber Eats orders. Two points for ordering an UberX, UberXL, UberSelect, or UberWAV ride. Three points for ordering UberBlack and UberBlack SUV rides.

Uber users will get a $5 credit for every 500 points they earn. And this credit can be used for rides or Uber Eats.

Tiers:

Blue – less than 500 points

Gold – between 500 and 2,499 points: Free cancellations within a 15-minute window, priority customer support

Platinum – 2,500 to 7,499 points: Gold benefits + price locking between two set places (home and work, for example) on UberX, priority pick-ups at the airport

Diamond – 7,500 points and above: Gold + Platinum benefits + dedicated phone support, free upgrades to Uber Black, access to highly rated drivers, no delivery fees on three Uber Eats orders every six months

Riders can keep their current status level for six months. If during that time period they don’t spend enough, they can drop down the tiers. For example, a Gold member would need to earn 500 to 2,499 points over six months to maintain that level for the following six months.

Why it’s hot: modeled after airline rewards programs, time will tell if this rewards/loyalty program will boost Uber ridership among existing users.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/14/travel/uber-and-lyft-launch-rewards-programs.html. https://mashable.com/article/uber-rewards-loyalty-program/#IOoZZomZtsqW

Chalk and Soap

Soap company Savlon started with a problem: Kids in India eat with their hands but often don’t wash them with soap, and it’s one of the leading causes of illness and school dropouts.

Since most primary grade students in rural India still use black-slate and chalk sticks to write in schools. This led to the idea of Savlon’s Healthy Hands Chalk Sticks – made with a mixture of chalk powder and soap granules. Before lunch break when kids put their hands under the tap, the chalk powder on their hands turned into soap on its own. This simple innovation by Ogilvy, Mumbai automatically turned washing hands with soap into an everyday habit.
For the first phase, Savlon identified 100 rural schools across India based on health data analysis. Under ‘Healthy India Mission’ these special chalk sticks were provided to 150,000 students for free. Owing to a great response and demand from schools and NGOs across the country, distribution models were set in place for NGOs whose requirements exceeded over 50,000 boxes.

Once implemented in 100 schools, on Children’s Day, this innovation was released as an online video to start a conversation about the importance of hand hygiene in children.

Why its hot?
Didn’t create anything new or spent much to create a powerful innovation. A simple idea that turned a tool already being used (chalk) into the solution (antiseptic soap chalk)

emotionally manipulate your children with technology this holiday…


Judging by this product created by Australian retailer Myer, Aussie parents’ behavior might not be under the same microscope that American parents’ behavior is.

Nevertheless, the store created a connected ornament that changes color based on how “naughty” or “nice” the children in the home are being leading up to Christmas.

According to Myer, “The bauble pairs up with an app, so parents can change the colour to coerce their kids into good behaviour, or be faced with a stocking full of coal.” 

The retailer is even taking a page from Spotify’s book, and using the “data” to power billboards around Australia showing how “naughty” or “nice” children in different areas are:

Why it’s hot: 

I’m not sure it is. Technologically, it’s an interesting idea to create a bluetooth powered product symbolizing what will hopefully be a happy holiday for each child. But, while it would be magical for an unknowing children to see “proof” they’re being “nice”, and therefore they’re headed for the rewards they want this holiday, the opposite seems like it could be a bit extreme.

You can’t hide from Facebook

Facebook has filed for a patent for tech that allows it to tell who you live with in the same household, reports BuzzFeed News. Titled “Predicting household demographics based on image data,” the patent describes how Facebook can use its facial recognition technology on your photos to identify people in them, then correlate those people with the captions a user writes when they post a photo, as well as cross-referencing everyone’s device information, such as shared IP addresses to discover who lives in your household.

It would note the people identified in a photo, and how frequently the people are included in your pictures. Then, it would assess information from comments on the photos, captions, or tags (#family, #mom, #kids)–anything that indicates whether someone is a husband, daughter, cousin, etc.–to predict what your family/household actually looks like.

According to the patent application, Facebook’s prediction models would also analyze “messaging history, past tagging history, [and] web browsing history” to see if multiple people share IP addresses (a unique identifier for every internet network).

Facebook uses pictures from both its main site and Instagram in this process.

Why it’s hot

Well, this seems like a great idea *wink*

Facebook obviously has access to a lot a lot a lot of ohotos, but it doesn’t really do very much with them. This is the type of thing no one knows about until it’s auddenls controversial and then Facebook has to make a lot of security changes and apologise.

I Can’t Read that Email on my Phone! (But I want to)

I know there is debate on how effective email marketing is and can be. Personally, I have always advocated emails and feel if done right- email marketing can play a very big role in customer loyalty and retention.

And- it looks like people agree with that- as consumers seem to be paying attention to marketing emails they receive. Another recent study from Yes Marketing suggested a considerable percentage of consumers prefer email communication from retailers over other forms of interaction, including social media.

The problem?  In a recent survey- people are saying those emails are not well-designed for their mobile devices, according to the results.

The top two issues shoppers wish could be improved were how marketing emails fit on a smartphone screen and the readability of such emails. The reality is that design, language, timing, tone and many other factors are all important when retailers and brands are looking to make the right impression by email.

Why It’s Hot:

As mentioned above- email could be a very cost effective and valuable cog in the marketing mix. It can help with retention, loyalty and brand awareness. However, if the emails aren’t designed right- especially to accommodate consumers viewing on their mobile phone- they will fail and could in fact have an adverse effect.  Designers should look to take advantage of this insight and look to retool emails to be “mobile friendly”.

China pumps AI-produced propaganda via humanoid virtual anchors

“Xinhua, China’s state-run press agency, has unveiled new “AI anchors” — digital composites created from footage of human hosts that read the news using synthesized voices.”

AI anchors have several advantages over human counterparts: they don’t need to sleep, eat, poop or take a salary.

Story on The Verge

Why It’s Hot

It’s a wholly frightening idea that the 24/7 news cycle will be reduced to this one day. As we struggle to define the line between real news and fake news, we will also have to grapple with fake news anchors.