Nike Made Shoes So Good They Might Be Banned

Elite runners may be banned from wearing Nike’s Vaporfly 4% shoes in races later this year.

The Nike Vaporfly 4% uses a combination of advanced foams and a carbon fiber plate to rebound as much as 4% of the energy from one running stride into the next. According to a test administered by the New York Times, a runner wearing a publicly available version of the Vaporfly 4% ran 4% to 5% faster than a runner wearing a typical running shoe. Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge wore the Vaporfly 4% when he broke the two-hour marathon for the first time last October. Then Brigid Kosgei wore the same version to crush the women’s marathon record the very next day.

And now, according to the London Times, the Vaporfly 4% will be banned by World Athletics later this year, the international governing body that determines the gear runners can wear in global competition. A report by the Guardian casts skepticism on this claim, however, citing sources disputing that a full-out ban will happen. Instead, according to the Guardian‘s reporting, certain limits will likely be placed on carbon plate technologies moving forward in an announcement coming at the end of January.

The International Olympic Committee did confirm with Co.Design that the “rules and regulations” of running are the jurisdiction of World Athletics. In other words, if Vaporfly 4% were to be banned by World Athletics, these shoes could not be worn in future Olympic Games. So this decision is of consequence for track athletes and global sporting fans alike.

Why its hot

Nike has always marketed its shoes as things that make you better at running and jumping. And it always seemed like questionable marketing and the shoes didn’t actually do anything. But these shoes really do something. For the average runner, it probably doesn’t make much difference at this price point ($250), but for elite runners it’s a big deal.

Ikea Spain tries to change perceptions through experiential marketing

Ikea furniture can have a reputation for being low quality and overly focused on functionality rather than style. Furthermore, in Spain, many people have reportedly been reluctant to purchase Ikea furniture for fear of having rooms too similar to their neighbors. But by inviting museum visitors to differentiate between furniture made in 2018 and opulent historical pieces from the 18th century, Ikea showcases the tastefulness and versatility of its designs.

Why it’s hot:

This campaign is also part of a wider strategy to position Ikea furniture as high quality as well as affordable by placing its modern pieces next to furniture from an era famous for its grand décor helps Ikea shift perception of its products.

SOURCE

This Pop-Up Will Let You Trade In CBD Products from Other Brands

With so many CBD-infused products on the market, first-time CBD users or curious onlookers might need a little help in choosing which brand to try. Even post-purchase, users might not feel totally comfortable that what they’ve bought is working, or even safe. Charlotte’s Web, a leader in the CBD space that sells hemp-based products, wants to help by inviting consumers to trade in their own unwanted or questionable bottles from other brands, while learning more about CBD and their products are made.

The Colorado-based company opened the CBD Swap pop-up in Miami. The swap program, which runs now through Feb. 1, is the first of its kind for a CBD company. Consumers who trade in their bottles will receive a free bottle of the brand’s original oil tincture.

According to a report from Brightfield Group, a consumer insights and market research group for the CBD and cannabis industries, there are more than 3,500 different CBD brands operating in the space—so it makes sense that consumers might be confused or overwhelmed.

 

Because of strict regulations, most traditional marketing channels like social media aren’t yet available to CBD companies–another reason for exploring the pop-up model. The space will also host events, with special activations around the Super Bowl.

In its first five days, the pop-up garnered more than 20 million earned media impressions in local press outlets, according to the brand.

 

 

Why It’s Hot

This pop-up model is a great way to pull in skeptical or misinformed consumers and be able to dispel some of the myths around CBD in an engaging manner.

Source

Emojis Meet Hieroglyphs: If King Tut Could Text

An exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, “Emoglyphs: Picture-Writing From Hieroglyphs to the Emoji,” highlights the seemingly obvious, but also complicated, relationship between the iconic communication system from antiquity and the lingua franca of the cyber age.

A visual and linguistic exercise in time travel, “Emoglyphs” juxtaposes the once indecipherable pictogram writing of ancient Egypt, which first developed about 5,000 years ago, with the more accessible and universal usage of pictograms that originated in Japan in the late 1990s.

It was always hard to explain how to read hieroglyphics,” said Shirly Ben Dor Evian, an Egyptologist and the show’s curator. “In recent years it’s become easier to explain because people are writing with pictures. So I started looking into emoji.”

The first thing she noticed, she said, was that some emojis look like hieroglyphs.

A chart at the entrance of the exhibition pairs a column of hieroglyphs with a column of emojis. The similarities are uncanny: There’s no need for translation.

The Egyptian depiction of a slender, generic dog closely resembles the emoji of a prancing canine in profile. A duck (often used as a generic for a winged creature in ancient Egyptian) reappears thousands of years later as an almost identical, left-facing emoji duck. And the “emoji man dancing” strikes a similar pose to a hieroglyph of a dancing man, one arm raised and with little but a purple disco suit and a loin cloth from 3,000 years ago to distinguish between them.

The exhibition, in a small gallery in the museum’s Bronfman Archaeology Wing, has more than 60 ancient Egyptian artifacts on display; most are from the museum’s collection and many of them on view for the first time. Visitors can quiz themselves on their understanding of emojis and their newly acquired knowledge of hieroglyphs on interactive screens. Data on the differing interpretation of some emojis will be gathered as part of a survey.

The two systems may have common features, but there are also deep and complex differences.

Hieroglyphics was a complete written language, and while even an illiterate person could recognize and understand some basic symbols, the scribes worked according to strict rules and had to be highly skilled. Ancient Egyptian inscriptions eventually morphed into the dry efficiency of the first alphabet of around 20 characters, which could be more easily taught and executed, leading to an explosion in communications.

“What’s happened now,” said Ms. Ben Dor Evian, who has a hieroglyph app on her cellphone, “is that it is easier to click on an emoji than to write a whole word.”

Emojis often serve as emotional shorthand — think smiley blowing a heart kiss to soften a message or send love, or a winking face to signal sarcasm — filling an expressive void that text messages may fail to convey.

In ancient Egyptian writing and art, the image of a scarab, or dung beetle, expressed a whole concept of the afterlife and rebirth and was used in inscriptions as the verb “to become.”

With the beginnings of research into the field of emoji, Egyptologists, cognitive linguists and communication experts have started debating the similarities between the two communication systems and what sets them apart.

Some have hailed emoji as a new language. One enthusiast produced a crowdsourced and crowd-funded emoji version of Herman Melville’s classic “Moby-Dick” titled “Emoji Dick.” In 2015, Oxford Dictionaries chose the “face with tears of joy” emoji as its word of the year, saying it best represented “the ethos, mood and preoccupations” of the period.

But Chaim Noy, a professor in the school of communications at Bar Ilan University near Tel Aviv who teaches a course on emoji “because it attracts students,” considers it simplistic and populist to speak of emoji as a language, viewing it as a kind of body-language supplement to text.

An expert in museum studies as well, Professor Noy said there was nevertheless “drama” in the exhibition, which runs through Oct. 12, juxtaposing the high culture of the museum and ancient Egypt against the bottom-up, lowbrow culture of emoji.

“It’s a bit provocative, it brushes off the tired, dusty image,” he said.

 Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot:

We focus a ton on emojis in our social monitor and linguistic analyses. It’s interesting to see emojis juxtaposed with language in a way that both shows their staying power as well as highlights their limitations.

 

Cadbury EATertainment

To promote the return of its Creme Eggs, Cadbury has launched a Netflix-style streaming service in the UK and Ireland.

All content on the EATertainment website contains references to the chocolate Easter treat that are both subtle and obvious. The programs include Girl Vs. Goo,  which document host Jahannah James’s quest to seek out ‘the best Creme Egg dishes in the country’, Armeggeddon, a mini film following three friends hiding away in an underground bunker and The Gooru, a series of Creme Egg-inspired yoga classes.

Anyone can register to gain limited access to the site by entering their personal details. But to watch all the content and enter a competition to win up to £10,000 ($13,450), users need to purchase a Cadbury Creme Egg and upload a picture of it to the website.

Cadbury has also partnered with Amazon as part of its Creme Egg promotional campaign. Amazon has written and produced two pieces of Creme Egg-themed content, which it is hosting on its Prime Video streaming hub to drive viewers to the EATertainment site. Meanwhile, the EATertainment site directs visitors to a branded page on Amazon where they can purchase a box of 48 Creme Eggs. Cadbury is also handing out £5 ($6.50) Amazon vouchers to 1000 people as part of its competition.

To promote its EATentertainment site, on 23 January Cadbury is throwing a Creme Egg-themed culinary event in London’s Leicester Square. For 24 hours Cadbury will host a Facebook Live stream of visitors sampling dishes from Creme Egg spaghetti to Creme Egg curry. The brand will also inviting people to star of their very own Creme Egg movie.

Why it’s Hot: In addition to being a fun content marketing activation, this is also a really well thought out consumer journey. An undertaking this massive truly becomes worth it when you factor in the data collection component and the direct link to purchase.

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Brands tap into growing ASMR Video trend

We all know tax season is a stressful time, especially if a) you’ve never done it before and b) you have to do it yourself (Turbo-Tax-style). H&R, known for its vast network of tax experts,  uses humor and the popular ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) which is “the experience of a tingling season on the skin often triggered by specific auditory and visual stimuli such as whispering”, to de-stress and help millennials feel more relaxed during tax season.

The fact that the brand can actually back up the idea of ‘peace of mind’ by having real people available to talk to (unlike Turbo Tax which mostly focuses on their online tool) makes this entertaining piece of content more believable and endearing.

JetBlue also tapped into this growing trend very recently to create a 9-minute long soundtrack YouTube video with the purpose of calming passengers during the extra stressful holiday traveling season. The video is called “AirSMR” and it features sounds of a standard JFK airport Terminal: suitcases rolling, fingers tapping a keyboard, and planes taking off and touching down (but none of the really annoying sounds of TSA agents or crying babies of course).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2019/12/17/airport-asmr-jetblue-thinks-boarding-calls-suitcase-sounds-will-calm-you-so-they-released-track-it/

JetBlue shared the video on YouTube and other social media channels like Instagram, which, interestingly, resulted in 100% negative comments due to general negative airport experiences shared by customers. While it’s nice the brand is trying to stay relevant by tapping into this growing trend, it’d have been even better to have released this idea in conjunction with actual meaningful improvements to customers’ travel experiences, or, to have done like H&R Block which used the trend to make their own ads more pleasant.

Why it’s hot: Today’s always-on, overstimulated lives are causing extreme levels of burnout. Smart brands will look for ways their advertising and/or their experiences can  help today’s burnout consumers de-stress, reset and reboot.

5 urban design projects that made cities more fun, clean, and accessible in 2019

Here’s a look at some of the most fun and interesting urban innovations of 2019.

Copenhagen opened the world’s first combination ski slope-power plant

As part of the Danish city’s pledge to be carbon neutral by 2025, Copenhagen opened CopenHill, a multipurpose power plant that also serves as a public destination and has been years in the making. The 44,132-square-foot waste-to-energy plant can not only provide 150,000 homes with electricity and heating but also offers residents a roof park with hiking trails and ski slopes and a 279-foot climbing wall on its exterior.

Amsterdam created a floating neighborhood with self-sufficient homes

Designed by architecture firm Space&Matter, the neighborhood is located on a canal and features homes outfitted with solar panels on their roofs, batteries in their basement, and a network that connects each home to its neighbors so residents can trade energy. The buildings also have green roofs where owners can grow plants, and their wastewater goes to a biorefinery to become even more energy.

Trondheim constructed a super-energy-efficient building

Trondheim, Norway, is a city of extremes—in the winter it gets five hours of daylight, but in the summer, a full 20—and this year, it debuted an extremely energy-efficient building. Built by the global architecture firm Snøhetta, Powerhouse Brattørkaia generates twice as much energy as it needs from the sun, providing excess energy to neighboring buildings and electric transit. Its solar panels can harvest all that energy over the summer and store it for the dark winter.

Miami started rewarding residents for getting around without their own cars

To try to curb the use of cars it launched Velocia, an app that works as a public-private partnership between Miami-Dade transit and services such as Bolt e-scooters and SwiftSeat carpooling For every commute a resident takes on one of these transit options, they’ll earn points toward their next travel, which might be a free half-hour on a Citi Bike or a MetroRail pass. Though we may be designing entirely car-free communities in the future, this was a step by one city plagued with traffic problems to reduce its single-car use without drastically changing its infrastructure.

Oslo made its city center car-free

Going a step further in the effort to prioritize pedestrians and cyclists over cars, this year the Norwegian capital removed more than 700 parking spots from its downtown area and replaced them with bike lanes, plants, tiny parks, and benches. Oslo is one of a few cities hopping on the car-free trend, and it’s been working toward this goal for a few years, but 2019 marked the start of a car-free downtown. The effort doesn’t only help people get around without traffic, either; it improves air quality, helps fight climate change, and enhances the quality of life.

Why it’s hot: It’s great to see the unique and innovative ways that cities are finding efficiencies.

Source: FastCo

Facebook Gets Into the T-Shirt Business

Carlings, a Swedish retail company, entered into an exclusive partnership with Facebook and Instagram to produce a first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) T-shirt—functional only on those platforms.

Spark AR, Facebook’s AR studio, developed the functionality of the AR component. The physical T-shirt itself, which can only be ordered from the Carlings site, is a plain white tee to the naked eye, with the exception of some black text on the sleeve and a logo near the center front of the shirt collar. Once you activate the filter on Instagram, that logo becomes a functional part of the design. It serves as a tracking point for your phone’s camera, so that the associated Carlings filter can properly superimpose a graphic of your choice onto that blank canvas no matter which way your body bends or turns. (Carlings emphasizes that the technology is still in beta, so “don’t move too fast.”)

But unlike typical fashion sales, which require buyers to make multiple purchases in order to keep up with trends, the point of this shirt, according to Carlings, is that you don’t have to buy another one. A variety of filters allow the wearer to switch up the graphic on the shirt whenever they feel like it, and the company plans to release even more filters, potentially on a continuous basis, so the wearer can make a topical political statement even as the news cycle spins faster and faster.

Most of the designs currently on the site are very much oriented to the sort of ironic, memeified design aesthetic of Gen Z  (which honestly, makes sense, because the designs themselves are digital-first). Almost all the designs on the site relate to the climate crisis.

Why its hot

Instagram and Facebook filters themselves are really a practice in playfulness. And depending on the person’s following, it could be a way to get more eyes on your message, without having to buy into the fast-fashion mantra of buying poorly made clothes on the cheap in order to participate in a trend—and then ditching them.

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ author J.D. Vance has raised $93 million for his own Midwestern venture fund

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Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Silicon Wadi, Silicon Fen and now — Silicon Midwest?

With countless articles talking about millennials moving (PBS & MSNBC) from classic, major, urban cores, there’s a lot of talk of smaller cities experiencing a renaissance (ex. Columbus and Detroit).  And with this influx of people, some venture funds are following.

This tech crunch article covers famed midwestern author, J.D. Vance’s Nayra Capital which has raised $93 million focusing on midwestern startups/organizations.

Why it’s hot: 
As new big-city advertising folk, we often forget about burgeoning and occasionally remote pockets/populaces of individuals that are changing the landscape of the country each day.

I think as marketers it’s interesting to pay attention to what challenges and solutions are being addressed and creative across the country and likely worth taking a look at what comes out.

5G // Connected Future

Why it’s hot:

5G is here. We anticipate 90% of US nationwide coverage by 2023 (Gartner).

What is 5G? It’s the 5th generation mobile network, which will connect not only humans to machines but machines to machines with one-millisecond latency. 100x more devices will be connected, everything you can imagine. All the technologies from AI, IOT, driverless cars, virtual surgeries, holograms will be enabled. 5G will enable the fourth industrial revolution… Imagine how it can impact our lives and the roles that brands can play in this new world.

Amazon’s Ring Sees a Slew of Horrifying Hacks

The videos are blood curdling. We are now seeing negative stories break about Ring video hackings. They are of predatory, pranking or threatening (mostly) men speaking to women through rings speaker feature. 

This is a horrible PR incident for Ring, though their response seems like a perfectly logical answer to how this might have happened (double use of username/passwords) and that they are we’re still investigating this issue & taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation, we’re able to confirm this is in no way related to a breach of Ring’s security.” If the problem is user error but the consequences can cripple your business… How do you insure that it doesn’t happen again? Forced 2FA?

Why it’s hot?

This is especially important for our security category clients. This can be an opportunity but it’s also a risk for current clients. This also can lead to generalized fear of technology and this kind of security progress. It hurts the category generally. If people can’t trust that they’re not being watched, digital security is rendered moot.

Would you give up a kidney for Super Bowl tickets? Some would

Some football fans would be willing to do anything to score tickets for the Super Bowl — even if that means giving up internal organs. According to a new poll conducted by Ticketmaster, which was reported by Reuters, some fans say they would give up organs or sex, and even end relationships if it meant they could receive a ticket to the biggest event of the year.

The survey, which polled 3,200 NFL fans over the age of 18 within the final two weeks of 2019, was split up into 100 people per team by gender. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would buy season tickets if they became rich, and 16% said they had broken up with someone over their alliance of the other team.

Nearly 75% of those polled considered themselves “avid” fans, which explains why would they would go to such lengths to score tickets. Other things they’d give up:

  • 35% said they would give up drinking for a year to attend a Super Bowl game that featured their team
  • 14% said they would give up sex for 12 months
  • 7% actually admitted they would donate a kidney or leave their partner if it meant they could score tickets to the big game day.

Currently, tickets are up-for-grabs on Ticketmaster for anywhere between $5,000 and $37,000 per seat. On the secondary market, ticket prices have just moved north of the $4,000 get-in mark.

Why it’s hot:
From crucial officiating mistakes to team scandals, to domestic violence, the league is no stranger to mitigating criticism. Yet, fans are still willing to stick with the brand. The NFL generated about $15 billion this past season and is on track to hit $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027. The brand is basically impenetrable.

Spotify roles out pet playlists

Spotify can now generate playlists for your pets, with a new tool that claims to customize mixtapes to a critters’ species and personality traits.

The music-streaming service announced the feature Wednesday, noting that 71 percent of pet owners already play music for their pets.

The “Pet Playlists” tool allows users to choose between dog, cat, iguana, hamster and bird, then tell the platform how energetic or friendly their animal is to help Spotify “pick the playlist vibe,” the company says.

For instance, a playlist curated for a relaxed, curious and shy cat spits out 30 tracks including The Cure’s “All Cats Are Grey” and “Never Run Away” by lo-fi singer-songwriter Kurt Vile.

Spotify has also launched a podcast called “My Dog’s Favorite Podcast” that’s meant to soothe pups when their owners leave the house.

Sources: CNN Business, NY Post

Why It’s Hot:

Another example of appeal to people’s expanded passions, especially pet owners. Amazon has embraced it with pet profiles, and innovation in the category continues to grow.

ThredUp launches Fashion Footprint Calculator

Behavior change is very hard and the second-hand ecommerce fashion retailer ThredUp relies on it as a key component of their business model. To aid their efforts to convert new-clothing buyers into used-clothing buyers, they just launched their fashion footprint calculator.

We’ve all heard about the carbon footprint of our cars and our eating habits, but we mostly ignore our closets’ role in ruining the planet. However, the fashion industry is one of the world’s biggest polluters, thanks in large part to the the fast-fashion trend.

Fun Fact: “Fashion is responsible for 92 million tons of solid waste per year globally, representing 4% of the 2.12 billion tons of waste we dump globally each year. That is more than toxic e-waste, and more than twice as much as supermarkets toss in food waste.” –EcoCult. This is bad because clothing is organic material, meaning it releases methane in landfills, a greenhouse gas that is dramatically more potent than carbon dioxide.

ThredUp is framing itself as the solution to this sustainability problem at the heart of fashion, by scaling second-hand clothing to the level of its new clothing counterparts. And it turns out that buying used clothing can have a pretty big impact.

“Lifecycle analyses of garments have found that buying used garments instead of new reduces your carbon footprint by between 60% and 70%.” -Fast Company

Why it’s hot:

1. Much like the global average temperature, awareness of our impact on the environment is ramping up exponentially. It’s interesting where different brands fall on the sustainability spectrum and how they use that position to promote themselves.

2. Our impact on the climate threat is a vague concept removed from our direct experience of short-sighted pleasure seeking and impulsive desire fulfillment. Personalizing the impact of one’s habits makes clear the need for personal change, and importantly, offers a simple way to make a difference, without sacrificing one of life’s chief pleasures.

3. ThredUp’s business model is based on the second-hand clothing market. Beyond the price savings, ThredUp needs to develop RTBs that will inspire loyal customers. If people are more aware of the impact their fashion-purchase habits have, they may be willing to consider the second-hand clothing platform, giving ThredUp a chance to turn them into loyal customers and advocates of reuse to their friends.

Source: Fast Company

Loyalty Evolution Success – Starbucks Rewards Revamp

When Starbucks relaunched its loyalty program in April, it was met with some initial criticism.

  • Would it alienate existing core customers?
  • Would people understand it?
  • Would it really contribute to growth or would it backfire?

Overall, Starbucks’ rewards program is a driver or sales… but that’s not new news.

“…when customers join our rewards program their total spend with Starbucks increases meaningfully,” CFO Patrick Grismer.

Having a loyalty program is one thing. Continually optimizing it based on customer feedback is what keeps it fresh, relevant, and valuable.

Starbucks has crafted a loyalty program that adds importance to customers and, for many, becomes a part of their daily lives. Thus, members engage and spend more frequently.

Starbucks Rewards Has Attracted More “Occasional” Customers

The relaunch of Starbucks Rewards in April allowed greater flexibility among members, making it easier to start redeeming. Grismer noted “significant positive customer response to this change, which was exactly what we had designed for.” This has led to a 15% increase in membership during the past year.

But it’s not just the revamp to the customer facing rewards program…

Starbucks added technology that enables the company to better understand its members. While membership in Starbucks Rewards has increased, so too has the frequency of customer visits. Personalization has played a role in customer loyalty at Starbucks as well. “We took the opportunity to introduce an enhanced personalized marketing engine into our technology stack,” Grismer said. “It allows us, through machine learning, to gain insights around what matters most to our customers, which informs the offers we make to them digitally.”

Why it’s hot: While loyalty can be incentived, ultimately it’s earned. Whether you’re providing a rewards program via points or freebies, the key to loyalty is evolving based on your customers’ needs. Starbucks is successful because it listens to its customers to minimize pain points, all while focusing on three main pillars: the in-store experience, beverage innovation, and digital customer engagement. These pillars create a compelling value proposition that customers can both experience and benefit from.

Source: Clarus Commerce blog, Loyalty360

Your subway stop are now announced by…a brand?

On the 7 train into work this morning, I was greeted by the voice over the intercom, which I assumed was the train conductor, announced the next stop. Then, to my surprise the voice added “this is a local train so we are making all the stops, baby!!!” I thought an conductor was having fun. I was delighted.

Before long, it became clear that the voice was a recording of Awkwafina as part of an advertising campaign for Nora from Queens–a new television show. 

Awkwafina attends the IFP's 29th Annual Gotham Independent Film Awards at Cipriani Wall Street on December 02, 2019 in New York City.

Like me, some of the approximately 820,000 daily 7-train riders thought a live conductor was cracking jokes.

Other people recognized a new form of advertising and were annoyed.

For it’s part the MTA is interested in opening up more announcements to sponsors.

“We are exploring new and different ways to generate much needed revenue, while also surprising and delighting customers,” said NYC Transit chief customer officer Sarah Meyer.

Why it’s hot: 

As the era of voice technology arises, expectations about what spaces should be free from audio ads may shift. Is this a new opportunity, a new form of sound pollution, or both?

Recording Scents for Posterity

Technology is not just making our lives easier by eliminating redundancies (from jobs to processes), it’s also quickly reducing our olfactory catalog. But fear not, the folks at UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage are developing different techniques to recover “extinct” scents from the past and to preserve those around today for the future.


Source: https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200108-why-preserving-certain-scents-is-important

Most cultural heritage preservation products center around visual heritage, however preservationists at UCL noted that one unprotected cultural heritage is scent.

In 2003, Unesco adopted a convention to safeguard intangible cultural heritage, which includes social practices, oral traditions and performing arts. Where, though, were the scents? For centuries there have been cultural practices where smell plays a vital role, like the Spanish Fiesta of the patios in Cordova or the Holy Week processions in Popayán, Colombia. In 2018, the skills related to perfumery in Pays de Grasse, France, were included on the intangible heritage list. No scents themselves, however, are listed.

From the smell of an old book to the smell of a pub “full of smoke and men and beerspilled on the floor and disinfectants coming out of the toilets, smell codifiers are trying to build a socio-economically agnostic library.

But why does smell matter? What valuable iformation can be written into the odour of an object or place? It’s all about culture and economy. Smells can give us an indication of a place’s character, but also tell a lot about the people of the area, their tastes and distastes.

Why it’s hot: Although facing obstacles of mainstream adoption, sych as health dangers of synthetic odors, the Digital Scent technology industry is projecting a forcast growth of 17.3% from now to 2025 (from 98.8M to 187.3M).

Booze Brands React to Dry January

Abstaining from alcohol for the first month of the year has become a global phenomenon, an unofficial cultural event. One in five Americans goes dry for the month, and with numbers like that, it’s also become the newest major marketing opportunity for booze companies. As the “sober curious” trend picks up steam—66% of millennials are making efforts to reduce their alcohol consumption—Dry January is a gateway for brands to convince you to keep drinking their low- and non-alcoholic booze all year round.

We’re only a couple weeks in but already Heineken has won the Dry January sweepstakes with its boozeless advent calendar. The brand, which launched its 0.0 beer a year ago and backed it with a $50 million marketing budget in 2019, began giving away its January Dry Pack in late December for free from a custom website and quickly ran out. Meanwhile, it’s still working hard to remind us all that its 0.0 brew is the best way to make it through the month.

MillerCoors used the prospect of Dry January to give those dry-curious another option, getting Succession‘s Nicholas Braun to go full Gregg the Egg with some very “We Hear For You” vibes.

In August 2019, Diageo acquired non-alcoholic spirits company Seedlip and quite purposely chose Dry January as the jump-off point to launch its first-ever brand campaign, which kicked off this week. “Dry January is a big thing for Seedlip,” says Diageo North America CMO Ed Pilkington, whose company has also invested in Ritual non-alcoholic spirits and has been ramping up marketing in recent years behind overall moderation with brands like Ketel One and Crown Royal. He says the brand is using the month to elbow in on the growing popularity of mocktail menus. “Our first big U.S. campaign is saying, ‘Hey it’s Dry January and you can drink Seedlip any time and anywhere’,” says Pilkington.

AB InBev has declared its goal to make 20% of its beer sales from low to non-alcoholic beer by 2025. It owns grocery store staple O’Douls, but has in recent years also launched Budweiser Prohibition brew in Canada and Budweiser 0.0 in other markets. “We view [Dry January] as an opportunity,” says Adam Warrington, AB InBev’s VP of corporate social responsibility. “What you can do with your marketing is drive up the awareness of the category, drive consideration, and this is a perfect time to be part of those conversations.”

Non-alcoholic beer startup Athletic Brewing has been going gangbusters since it opened its taps in 2018, and so far this month e-commerce sales (which typically make up between 30% and 50% of its overall business) are up 40% from December. The company also ramps up its in-store promotions and displays to remind dry folks that they do have other options. For founder Bill Shufelt, Dry January isn’t just about a one month sales spike. “It’s much easier to introduce ourselves to customers in January,” he says, “and we find a lot of those customers stick with us throughout the rest of the year.”

Why it’s hot: It’s a given that alcohol brands react to this strong cultural trend (especially among millennials) — some are winning this month of opportunity better than others.

Source: FastCo

EAT THIS!

As New Years brings New us-es and resolutions bloom into hopeful flowers that will hang strong until the salads loose their luster on January 12th which is new years resolution quitting day.

Fear not, you could be an hour saliva swab away from your dream body!  DNANudge is here to give you personalized dietary advice based on your DNA.

Their technology takes out a single letter in your 3 billion letter long DNA strand that is specifically linked to your nutrition-related health predisposition. Now if you remember there are only 4 letters to choose from (ACTG). Nonetheless, onward with the business.

With consumers at an all time high surveillance for personalization products, for you, you unique snowflake, this seems viable, especially with the popularity of companies like 23&me. You get a DNA band, a la fit bit (below) and a matching app(above).

The wristband will scan the barcode of the item you are looking to purchase and then flash red for no, and green for one of the good foods. Which is an interesting intervention when you’re next to the Cheetos, will your DNA tell you you can have them? Who do I blame then when I accidentally buy them and eat the whole bag? (Still not my fault, it was a hard day.)

The app will tell you the sensitivities it thinks you have and the things you should be eating. It also takes account how much you are moving throughout the day and that will also change the status of each item for you. Example, you’re sitting at your desk all day? That apple pie (that is usually green) just turned amber. They take the stance that this is not a diet, it’s all still up to you. And any dieter will have heard that saying before, it’s a ‘lifestyle change’.

Can this take the guess work out off food, and preventative healthcare providing that one other speed bump to the foods you shouldn’t be eating.

Shop with your DNA. Can DNANudge evolve into telling me what type of bag I should buy? What color sweater will suit me based on my skin tone.

Until then, I’ll will hopelessly be left to my own devices, whittling away my decision fatigue.

https://www.dnanudge.com/

 

catch more than just pokemon in AR…


Swiss airlines Edelweiss created the aptly named “Catch a Flight to Buenos Aires” AR game to raise awareness of its new direct flights from Zurich to Buenos Aires.

Users download the app, point it at flights in the air, and if they correctly find an Edelweiss flight traveling to Buenos Aires, they can win a free flight of their own (for two).

To make it a little simpler, the app shows a countdown to when each flight to Buenos Aires will depart, and users can opt-in for notifications when one is in the sky.

Why it’s hot:

While it still might be pretty niche to peg raising awareness of a new service to an AR game, it’s a much more interesting and engaging way to promote a product. Traditional advertising methods might work, but this actually lets people interact with something as opposed to just passively consuming a message. Plus, it’s another example of physical objects in the real world getting a digital layer, as well as becoming potential canvases for engagement. As everything physical becomes digital, it’s interesting to see the future of advertising emerging.

Volkswagen Is Working On a Car-Charging Robot

Finding that one free electric car charging spot in a parking garage can be a chore, but if Volkswagen’s new project catches on, the charging spot might come to you instead. The company announced a concept for a mobile charging robot that navigates its way to electric cars and charges them on its own.

Volkswagen's new invention could turn every car park into an electric car park.

The robot would contain a “mobile energy storage device” (a big battery on wheels with about 25kWh worth of energy content). It would be able to communicate with the car, open the charging socket flap and plug in with no human interaction. It’s also fitted with cameras, laser scanners and ultrasonic sensor, which would allow it to move freely and go around obstacles. When the charging is complete, the robot would collect the battery and take it back to a base charging station.

Once it connects the mobile battery to a car, the robot can go perform other tasks until the charging is done.

Volkswagen envisions the robot’s primary use in parking garages and underground car parks. Depending on the parking area size, several of these robots could be employed at one parking lot.

Why It’s Hot

The limited availability of charging stations is currently a barrier to electric car ownership. This helps ease the burden of finding an available place to charge, while saving the driver time as their car can be charged for them while they go about their day.

Source

Delta Air Lines bets on AI to help its operations run smoothly in bad weather

In its first-ever keynote at CES, Delta announced a new AI-driven system that will help it make smarter decisions when the weather turns tough and its finely tuned operations get out of whack. In a first for the passenger airline industry, the company built a full-scale digital simulation of its operations that its new system can then use to suggest the best way to handle a given situation with the fewest possible disruptions for passengers.

It’s no secret that the logistics of running an airline are incredibly complex, even on the best of days. On days with bad weather, that means airline staff must figure out how to swap airplanes between routes to keep schedules on track, ensure that flight crews are available and within their FAA duty time regulations and that passengers can make their connections.

“Our customers expect us to get them to their destinations safely and on time, in good weather and bad,” said Erik Snell, Delta’s senior vice president of its Operations & Customer Center. “That’s why we’re adding a machine learning platform to our array of behind-the-scenes tools so that the more than 80,000 people of Delta can even more quickly and effectively solve problems, even in the most challenging situations.”

The new platform will go online in the spring of this year, the company says, and, like most of today’s AI systems, will get smarter over time as it is fed more real-world data. Thanks to the included simulation of Delta’s operations, it’ll also include a post-mortem tool to help staff look at which decisions could have resulted in better outcomes.

Source: TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Delivering on best in class CX in the airline industry is a beast, and Delta has consistently tried to win here (as previous covered by Forrester CX index and the like). Why lacking in the super-cool-tech factor, widespread use of AI In the airline industry makes a ton of sense.

Y2K @ 20

Or how teens are super obsessed with Y2K…

image for y2kteens-1

Some teens today, though they were born in the year 2000 or shortly after, crave to go back in time and experience the era just out of their grasp. They feel, like so many young people before them have, like they missed out on the best time by just a decade or two.

To relive the Y2K era, they run Instagram accounts like @2000sluv, @2000sjournals, @00sfreak, and @y2ktrashy and more, all stocked with a mix of content culled from the early 00’s — vacuuming up paparazzi pics, screen grabs, magazine pullouts, and catalog clips. They worship the early 2000s style and maintain an encyclopedic knowledge of 2000s pop culture. On YouTube, they vlog themselves “living in the 2000s for a day” or for the weekend.

image for y2kteens-2

 

Why it’s hot:

““The early 2000s were all about having fun and expressing your individuality. In today’s world, everything and everyone is taken so seriously”. 


It’s interesting how these Y2K fans —who were babies or not even born yet— use their perception of the 2000s to cope with the anxiety of being a teenager today.

Burger King jumps on Bronx-steps Joker meme

Thanks to the success of the Joker movie, the now famous Bronx steps have become an Instagram-able tourist destination, to the chagrin of many locals just trying to get to work.

Riding on the coat tales of this meme-fueled furor, Burger King took the opportunity to create some local goodwill (while taking a jab at its main clown-mascotted rival) by offering Bronx residents a free Whopper, delivered by UberEats, as a consolation for having to deal with the rapid influx of Joker-stair tourists AKA clowns (burn).

Why it’s hot:

Brands are desperate to be a part of pop culture, and this campaign finds a low-risk, nonpolitical way to catch the viral wave, with little investment.

Rides on the pop-culture success of Joker, but comes at it from a snarky, unpredictable angle.

Source: Fast Company

There’s a Dracula on that billboard…

To mark the arrival of the series Dracula, BBC erected two billboards in both London and Birmingham that don’t directly depict the count himself, but through a clever play of shadows and stakes, see him emerge as a haunting ghost.

During the day passers-by will notice that the billboards are stabbed with stakes – alluding to the action of vampire killers. Yet, at night a light at the side turns on, and viewers realize the stakes have been placed with the utmost intention so that their shadows recreate the face of the TV series’ blood-thirsty villain.

To heighten the spooky billboard, beneath stands a ‘break in case of vampires’ box that contains a pointed wooden stake, ready to stab with.

Why it’s Hot: Innovation doesn’t always need to be a new digital platform or tool – sometimes the most interesting innovations come from rethinking how we use traditional channels.

Source

Red Bull’s solar-powered billboard lights-up nighttime sports

Lighting for nighttime sports is scarce in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, making it hard for people to enjoy outdoor activities, like football and skateboarding, at night. The desire to play sports at night is especially strong in Vietnam because of the intense daytime heat and humidity. Red Bull, being all about energy and action, used this as an opportunity to create a social benefit while aligning the brand with a different kind of energy than caffeine: solar.

To do this, they painted a grid of used Red Bull cans black, in order to soak up the sun’s energy during the day, then stored that energy in batteries, which were used to power flood lights, making nighttime games and sports possible.

Why it’s hot:

Instead of just throwing up some standard billboards in outdoor recreation areas, Red Bull decided to be user-centered, looking to solve a real problem first, and found a clever way for the brand to participate in a more meaningful way within the culture it wants to attract.

1. Alignment: Red Bull sells an image of passion — a desire to go “all out” for one’s dreams, and this project fits perfectly with that image.

2. Social benefit: This hits on all cylinders for Red Bull. It positions the brand as essential to the sports it’s supporting, while repurposing resources, reducing energy use, and showing off its innovation chops. Helping people in this small way with things they are passionate about extends good will toward the brand far beyond the initial investment.

Source: Contagious

The New Knowledge Workers

Hard-workers is a digital community for working class Americans to express their professional selves, learn from each other and most importantly take full pride in the hard work they do.

Through the app, people can:
– Easily post your work related photos, videos and texts
– Join your professional community and discuss relevant topics
Ask for advice and get advice when needed
– Check out what is happening in adjacent occupations
Interviews with real people a.k.a. other hardworkers
News about things that impact hardworkers
– Advice on relevant questions such as: how to save money, how to find a side gig, how to prepare for a new job, where to go for education, etc.

Norwegian fashion retailer makes AR T-shirts to promote sustainability

“Scandinavian clothing brand Carlings has created an augmented reality T-shirt designed to reduce the environmental impact of fast fashion.

People can buy the T-shirt – which is white aside from a graphical logo at the top – from Carlings’ website for €39.90 ($44). The T-shirt is then mailed directly to the customer.

Upon delivery of the item, customers can visit Carlings’ dedicated Instagram account, select the filter icon and choose from a variety of designs, before pointing a phone camera at the T-shirt’s graphical logo. This will digitally superimpose the selected design onto the T-shirt.

The designs are emblazoned with environmentally conscious messages such as ‘Stop Denying Our Planet is Dying’ and ‘I’m Sure The Dinosaurs Thought They Had Time Too.’” (Contagious)

Why it’s hot

1. Designs that can be changed to match new causes extends the shirts timescale of relevance, combating fast-fashion disposability.

2. The shirt comes to life where it can have the most impact: on social media. Also gets folks going to the brand’s IG and creating lots of UGC.

3. Interesting how the 4th digital dimension is being employed to push social issues, in a cool, shareable, and potentially viral way.

4. Also, profits from the line go to a water charity, so seems like another fashion brand hoping their good works will turn into net profits.

Source: Contagious

The Gift of “Icing” With Smirnoff

This holiday season, Smirnoff rolled out the perfect joke gift. They created a fake luxury home brand, Cremisiffino, with boxes that display a range of products from hand-held mixers to ironing boards. But in reality, the only item inside is a bottle of Smirnoff Ice.

Smirnoff Ice ″Cremsiffino″ Boxes

They’re playing off the trend of “icing” that’s been around for years now–where someone hides a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, and the unsuspecting recipient who finds it is supposed to kneel and chug the bottle.

While the official Cremisiffino box was set at a pretty steep price, $10 for an empty box and $20 for a box including one bottle, Smirnoff announced on Twitter that they sold out within 2 days.

Why It’s Hot

While the boxes are simple, the idea of combining white elephant prank gifts with the icing prank is a smart way to keep Smirnoff top of mind and in social feeds for the holidays.

Source

What does Hygge, Popeye’s chicken sandwich and the color blue have in common?

In short, comfort. Whether it’s the grueling polarizing political climate, the endless buzz of tech always pressing for our attention or our own personal life commitments tugging at us in all directions, we seem to be increasingly living in a constant state of anxiety and it’s only natural that we’re craving comfort.

According to Google Search data for 2019, Americans were more likely to be cooking up a Shepherd’s pie or indulging their sweet tooth with a homey snickerdoodle cookie rather than the Instagram-famous Unicorn cake which topped last year’s trending search spot. Speaking of comfort foods, after selling out in just two weeks, Popeye’s now famous chicken sandwich was brought back in the Fall to amazing success.

Why the bend toward comfort foods in 2019? It’s possible that these trending searches for folksy foods are driven by a culture increasingly hungry for an anxiety antidote, a bite of hygge, if you will.

The Pantone Color Institute would agree. They announced recently that the color for 2020 is the classic blue. You don’t need to know much about color theory to know blue = comfort. Pantone settled on a shade that offers “reassurance, confidence and connection that people may be searching for in an uncertain global miliu.” 

Specially in uncertain times when it feels like things are always changing and nothing is ever certain, how can we offer our consumers more comfort?

How can brands balance the need to provide new and exciting experiences/innovation while also making them feel comforting and familiar?

 

 Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/pantone-color-classic-blue-2020/index.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/eveturowpaul/2019/12/13/googles-year-in-search-reveals-2019-as-the-year-of-comfort-foods/#4e6709002be5