Parker the stuffed bear

Say Hi to Parker, your augmented reality bear. He’s filled with nothing but love and stuffing but he’s so much more than that. When you purchase Parker for $60 you can get the whole Parker kit that’s compatible with your iOS devices! It comes with Parker, a wooden stethoscope, wooden thermometer and a few other miscellaneous items. The idea is to promote STEAM from a young age.

It’s a great way to integrate AR with a classic toy for kids. The greatest part is that you can also purchase the $40 extension bedtime kit for more fun! Purchases aside, at least the app itself is free.

Why it’s hot:

STEAM integration is becoming more and more important and it’s an amazing way to let kids explore from the get go. But is Parker worth $100?


Car Search Site Offers REAL People As Concierge

For those of you in search of a new car, like I recently was, you’ll know how much of a pain it can be.  First you have to know what features you want, figure out your budget, etc.  Then, you have to actually go to the dealership and test drive, spend hours haggling, etc.

There’s a new website out there called Copilot Search.  It will help you along the entire car buying process, offering a discovery engine (if you don’t know what car you want, but know what FEATURES you want, it will scape everything available and provide you with recommendations).  Next to that, they have the same tools as dealerships do, so you can truly identify what you should be paying.  What’s most amazing about this site though, is the one on one free concierge service.  When you sign up, there is a real person that can help you through the car buying experience and make your most educated choice.  In a world where chat bots are everywhere, this is taking a step back to truly servicing a customer and their needs, when they’re preparing to spend tens of thousands of dollars.

Why It’s Hot

Sometimes I think businesses get too focused on technology and forget about how to truly service a customer.  This site has strong service (I actually didn’t think my “copilot” was real… that’s how rampant chat bots are- but then I had an actual conversation with him on the phone!) and offers something that has been lacking in the car buying space.  Before I discovered it, I had a spreadsheet (yes, I know I’m anal retentive!) of the features I wanted and the vehicles I was thinking of.  I actually didn’t even know the car I ended up buying existed until I found Copilot and used their Discovery Engine (you don’t know what you don’t know).  As people servicing brands, we always have to keep in mind that service has to be #1- if the technology that exists now creates a lackluster experience, it may not be worth it in the long run.

Note: I’m not getting paid to support this site!

Chobani rebrands in an attempt to outpace the competition

In an attempt to stay ahead of the curve, distance itself from similar products, and shake the potentially negative implications of association with it’s manufacturer, multinational food-production corporation Danone, yogurt and snack brand Chobani announced a rebrand late last month. The new look is more abstract, colorful, and painterly, eschewing photos of fruit and perfectly white packaging in favor of colorful illustrations and bone packaging.



Why it’s hot

The new packaging and illustration style is already visible on the website, but many key elements retain the old branding and typography. This pastiche creates a jarring view of a company transitioning, attempting to find its place in a market where some consumers are wary of big food brands. A redesign this big could prove a challenge, “eliminating a shelf appearance that shoppers are already accustomed to.” Whether shoppers will be swayed by a bright color palette and playful abstractions is yet to be determined.

Stop Everyday Killers – Pain Management and the opioid crisis

One-third of people taking prescription pills like oxycodone don’t even know they’re on opioids. Crazy!

A new campaign from the nonprofit health organization National Safety Council, Energy BBDO and m ss ng p eces seeks to raise awareness about, and take action to stop, the drug epidemic sweeping the U.S., by focusing on the 22,000 people who died last year due to prescription opioid overdose.

Titled “Stop Everyday Killers,” it features a memorial wall covered in that same number of little pills—22,000 of them—all with tiny faces mechanically carved into them to represent the dead. As part of the roving exhibit, which launched in Chicago last month and is set to travel to places like Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and Washington D.C., a routing machine carves a new face into a pill every 24 minutes, the rate at which prescription opioid overdoses happen.

The memorial, called “Prescribed to Death,” includes three rooms sharing such individual stories through videos and personal belongings of the deceased—one focused on Avi and Michael; one on a woman named Felicia and her son Louie, who also died from an overdose; and a third on Rigo, a recovering addict.

The campaign also includes efforts to reduce the number of prescription opioids in circulation by offering free “Warn Me” labels that consumers can stick to their insurance and prescription cards asking healthcare providers to discuss the risks of taking opioids and possible alternatives. The NSC is also offering free pre-paid “Seal&Send” envelopes for returning unwanted medications. Both are available via the organization’s website, which also includes many more short video memorials for individuals killed by opioids.

Why its hot?

  • Opioid addiction is a huge issue, 1/3 of people on pain medication not knowing their on opioids is crazy!
  • How will the opioid crisis effect healthcare providers? What will this do to the doctors/patient relationship?
  • I think we’ll see a lot of campaigns that focus on securing the doctor/patient relationship. People need to feel they can trust their doctors, campaigns like this are important but could have a negative effect on care and treatment

22,000 Faces Are Carved Into Pills on This Opioid Overdose Memorial


Delivering the most good looking pizzas

Domino’s is using artificial intelligence cameras to ensure that every pizza made in-store is up to scratch. The Pizza Checker cameras take pictures of pizzas from above the kitchen cutting board, and an AI program assesses the pizza type, temperature, crust type, toppings, and distribution of ingredients.

The results are then sent to the store manager. A picture of the pizza is also sent to the customer (through Domino’s order-tracking website) along with a notification that tells them if it failed its assessment and must be remade.

At present, the AI camera is being trialled at one Domino’s restaurant in Australia, with plans to implement the system across the rest of the country in 2018. The Computer Vision Quality Management System was developed by Dragontail Systems and incorporates Google’s AI software.

Why it’s hot?
We’re getting closer to the live delivery movie we’ve always been curious about

Source: Thrillist

Drone, curbing overtime employees

In some Asian countries including Japan and China, there’s a culture that encourages employees to work overtime. Sadly, overtime has led to deaths.

A Japanese company named Taisei wants to solve this problem in an unconventional way. They designed a drone that surveils around the office with camera and blasts Auld Lang Syne to nag people into going home. In Japan this song is usually used to indicate closing time. Their plan is to make it hard for people to concentrate and continue to work.

Why it’s hot: a very functional and useful application of cutting-edge technologies.


Messaging apps: et tu, IG?

Instagram is testing a standalone app for private messages called Direct, a first step toward possibly toward removing messaging features from the core app.

Instagram Direct

Although it is officially only a test, Instagram’s rationale for building Direct app is that private messaging can never be a best-in-class experience when it lives inside an app meant for broadcasting publicly.

When Facebook split Messenger from the main app in 2014, it drew an outcry from users, who pelted it with one-star reviews. Today, the app has 1.3 billion monthly users — up from 500 million the year that it split.

Why It’s Hot
How many more messaging apps can there be? I guess time will tell but for now focused experiences continues to win even when it requires multiple apps.

This video game is also an ADHD prescription medicine

Akili Interactive just announced incredible results from a pivotal study of their investigational digital medicine, AKL-T01, aka a VIDEO GAME, in treating pediatric ADHD. This sounds bonkers but it’s true, I swear.

In a randomized, controlled trial of 348 kids and teenagers with ADHD, AKL-T01 showed a statistically significant improvement compared to an active control on the primary goal of changing the subjects’ Attention Performance Index, a measure of ADHD symptoms. With these study results in hand, Akili plans to file AKL-T01 with the FDA for clearance as a novel treatment for pediatric ADHD.

AKL-T01 is built on Akili’s proprietary Project: EVO tech platform that “enables selective targeting and activation of specific cognitive neural systems in the brain that exhibit deficiencies from various medical conditions” (BusinessWire). Basically, the game uses algorithms to deliver stimuli that engage targeted neural systems in the brain, and the algorithms automatically adjust the level, aka dose, of stimuli depending on the particular patient. The treatment looks and feels like a video game, with art, music, storytelling, and rewards to keep kids engaged for maximum compliance.

Why It’s Hot: IT’S A VIDEO GAME THAT IS ALSO A PRESCRIPTION FOR CHANGING NEURAL PATHWAYS IN PEOPLE. That is bonkers. If the FDA approves this as a medication, and the platform is expanded to treat other brain/neurological disorders, the possibilities are endless.

Learn More: BusinessWire | Reuters

Stock Photos of Dads Evolve Along With Fatherhood

As dads, statistically, become more involved with raising kids at home, stock image leader, Getty, is evolving the photos usually used to depict fatherhood.

The two most-downloaded photos from Getty in 2016 and 2017, respectively, depict a dad wearing a feather boa and a tiara while painting his daughter’s nails and a dad holding a rolling pin, helping his kid bake something. Ten years ago, the top-selling stock photos were the typical ideas of fatherhood—dads roughhousing, playing football, etc.

By 2013, images were showing fathers taking care of babies. In 2015, they showed dads reading to their daughters and helping with chores.

Via Mashable:

The evolution of fatherhood in stock photos didn’t occur in a vacuum. In 2013, the same year dads nurturing babies took the spotlight, Getty noticed photos of women adjusting, too. Women began to transcend the dominant “sexy look” of years past. And this year, the “gritty woman,” a Getty photo trend that features women getting sweaty, unconcerned with how they look, came to the foreground. By 2015, a new advertising trend nicknamed “dadvertising” was in full force, with several Super Bowl commercials focused on fathers and their kids. The clueless, aloof father figure of the past was transforming into an emotionally available guide and supportive partner.

Getty’s made big strides, but there’s still more work to do to accurately reflect fathers, and families, of today. Families are multiracial, and it’s not just mom-and-dad any more. Getty searches for “gay dads” and “single dad” are up 53 percent and 60 percent respectively over the past year. But when one searches “gay dads” in Getty’s public-facing collection, roughly 1,700 results pop up. Comparatively, there are about 325,000 results for “mom and dad.”

Why its hot

Stock images are interesting because they present the way we see ourselves and the world. They are the idealized versions of the world around us. And as those ideas evolve, and our priorities change, so much stock images.

GM brings Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks Ordering to Cars

General Motors is launching a new in-vehicle app named Marketplace that will allow drivers to pay for goods such as gasoline or coffee and schedule service through their infotainment systems.

The automaker expects the free technology, which it is calling an industry first, to quickly expand from about a dozen offerings, such as ordering Dunkin’ Donuts or reserving a table at TGI Fridays, to other services such as Starbucks orders and dealership services, including oil changes.

“We are using it also to improve how our customers interact with the vehicle and the dealership network,” says Santiago Chamorro, GM vice president of global connected customer experience. He emphasized the connections are secure, and Marketplace is not meant to be an in-vehicle digital billboard.

In-vehicle marketplaces and app-based services have been discussed for years. Offerings such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirror smartphone apps onto the vehicle’s infotainment screens but do not complete financial transactions.

Some services such as ordering Dunkin’ Donuts for pick up require drivers to have an account or profile with the store. Marketplace uses recent and favorite foods and settings from the profiles to customize the offerings for the driver. Deals and membership rewards are currently available from gas stations. Paying for gasoline is expected to be available early next year.

Dealership services such as scheduling oil changes or other maintenance are expected to be added as early as next year. Vehicles will have the capability to alert drivers of needed services and schedule them, if the driver would like.

Other current partners with Marketplace include Wingstop, Shell, ExxonMobil,, Parkopedia, Applebee’s, IHOP and Starbucks is expected to be added in early 2018.

According to Consumer Reports, though, “The bad news is that in its current state, there’s not much reward for drivers to actually use it—though the automaker promises that will change soon as it adds more options and retail partners….Ultimately, instead of opening up an e-commerce gateway, GM Marketplace acts more like a middleman with limited options, at least in its current state.”

Source: AdAge

Why It’s Hot:
Automotive innovation is not only about self-driving technology, but about retail and the new consumer expectations brands need to meet. The opportunity for e-commerce to be at your fingertips even while driving may open up more geo-fenced, trackable marketing opportunities.

TV Commercials Keep Shrinking

Commercials of non-traditional lengths have been increasing. Almost 6% of all commercials are not 10-, 15-, 30-, or 60-seconds long during the first half of 2017, according to Nielsen’s 2017 Commercial & Advertising Update.

  • Avg. primetime commercial on broadcast last season: 14:37 seconds
  • Avg. primetime commercial on cable last season: 16:08 seconds

On TV, Fox debuted the first six-second ads earlier this year at the Teen Choice Awards for reportedly $75,000 each.

Online, social sites like Facebook and Snapchat are commissioning research that proves the effectiveness of ads in the first two seconds.

Why It’s Hot:

TV commercials struggle to reach the Millennial audience: Per Adobe’s latest Media Habits Survey, between 34% and 49% of viewers constantly use another screen when commercials are on TV and 79% of millennials are distracted by other devices during commercial breaks either “most of the time” or “all of the time.”


Meet the CryptoKitties

 First, a quick definition, according to CryptoKitties’ website:
” CryptoKitties is one of the world’s first games to be built on blockchain technology—the same breakthrough that makes things like Bitcoin and Ethereum possible. Bitcoin and ether are cryptocurrencies but CryptoKitties are crypto-collectibles. You can buy, sell, or trade your CryptoKitty like it was a traditional collectible, secure in the knowledge that blockchain will track ownership securely.”

The game’s developers describe them as “breedable Beanie Babies” and each one of them has its own unique 256-bit genome. The kitties’ unique DNA can lead to four billion possible genetic variations.

Developers also say that these crypto-collectibles cats are gender-fluid, able to play the role of either the “dame” or the “sire” when bred together.

So far people have spent more than $ 3 million dollars on it (!!!).

Check out the CryptoKittens for sale here.

Why It’s hot:

More info: BBC, Mashable


Snapchat’s Algorithmic Redesign

Today, Snapchat begins rolling out its big redesign that CEO Evan Spiegel says separates the ‘social’ from the ‘media.’ While Snapchat opens to the camera as always, a feed devoted to your friends now lives to the left and a Discover feed devoted to exploring professional creator content lives to the right. The Discover feed combines automated analysis of past viewing behavior and human curation to better weed out the kind of click-bait content that has plagued Facebook. As social media companies look inward at the fake news problem, Spiegel believes Snapchat can solve it with a curation board that sifts through everything that appears on Discover.

The new algorithmic redesign makes Snapchatmore Instragram-like – rather than highlighted most recent Stories (which emphasized oversharers), the new Snapchat algorithms puts a spotlight on your friend’s Stories. The Discover feed also includes features for users to see less content from creators they don’t want to see, giving users an easy fix if the mix of algorithm and human curation isn’t jiving with them.


Spotify’s Wrapped feature is awesome

Spotify’s annual Wrapped feature is now up to give users insights into what they streamed over the past twelve months. Wrapped, which replaced Spotify’s personalized Year in Music feature last year, tells you the amount of time you spent streaming music in 2016 and how many songs and artists you listened to. Then it quizzes you to see how well you know your own listening habits before making a personalized playlist of 30 songs you might have missed this year. (check it out:

Why it’s hot: Yet another way that Spotify is leveraging user data for audience engagement. This is a bit of a step up from their ‘year in review’ in-app experience, and they are providing an extra value add at the end. They are showing you 30 new songs that you might not know of yet, and proving how well they know you and your taste. Could they get any better?!

Bonus: Un-related, fun, Friday Instagram post that you never knew you needed. Enjoy.

This is my favorite thing I’ve ever read. Swipe left and tell me which dish you’d make. (@prozacmorris_)

A post shared by Sloane Steel (@iamsloanesteel) on


The Game-Changing Facebook Plug-In: Customer Chat

Facebook Messenger is coming to businesses’ own websites. The social network announced today the launch of a new customer chat plugin into closed beta, which will allow customers to talk directly with businesses on their websites using Messenger, and continue those conversations across web, mobile and tablet devices.
Like other web chat systems, the Messenger chat plugin is designed to hover over the top of the business’s web page, and is indicated by the familiar, blue Messenger icon. The Customer Chat bubble initially opens on websites, but remains an active conversation in the customer’s Messenger inbox even after they close both the on-site conversation and leave the website altogether. This is revolutionary! This means that companies are no longer bound by the Rule of 30 Seconds — the prevailing industry wisdom that if an agent doesn’t respond to a chat inquiry within 30 seconds, that lead is lost.

Now, on-site chat can finally function the way people actually chat today: A person initiates a conversation with a company by pressing the familiar on-site chat prompt, But if an agent doesn’t respond right away, the person can navigate away from that page, close their computer or phone, and go about their business. When someone does respond on the other end, that person sees it as a message coming into their Messenger inbox, the same way they get messages from friends.
If they ask a follow-up question, the same pattern ensues. The person can ask their question, put their phone away and go about their business and get a message in their Messenger inbox with the response, whether it’s 10 seconds or 10 hours later. With traditional tools, this customer would have been lost after 30 seconds. Now, they are engaged in an indefinite, productive conversation with the company.

Why It’s Hot

Facebook’s new plug-in, Customer Chat, will foster two-way communication between brands and consumers, and at the same time, boost engagement rates and encourage sales. For the customer, it is the ease of clicking on a company’s website, typing a question in the Messenger chat and knowing that if they leave the site and turn off their devices, they will receive a response in their Messenger app. It is an innovative way to expand brand presence and increase sales on mobile. Businesses would be able to track web activity and analyze information.

One Shared House 2030

Ikea’s external design team, Space 10, and Brooklyn-based design firm Antone & Irene, have created an research study aimed at redesigning co-living for 2030 called One Shared House 2030.

“The project’s aim is to explore and develop ideas for shared living to solve current housing problems, like affordability, rapid urbanisation and loneliness.”

Questions span topics like pets, furniture, tolerance and privacy.

Research Study Landing Page:

Examples of Questions:


Why It’s Hot: This study is fascinating way to gather data about innovating in an industry. It would be interesting to find out how they came up with the questions and what were some questions they didn’t include. The way the data is structured allows them and users to better understand what specific demographics prefer what type of co-living. However, as always, this data needs to be viewed with a critical lens. What users say may not always be what they actually want. Furthermore, this poses the question about if existing biases about co-living are racist, sexist, or otherwise exclusionist and if so, how will that information be harnessed for the future of co-living.


It’s Facebook-auto-generated-year-in-review Time Again!

From The Verge: “Ah, the holidays. The time of year when Facebook flexes its algorithms to compile all of your best social media posts into a Year in Review video. These little montages have been sprouting up like weeds on my timeline lately, showcasing many smiley faces and birthday wishes. However, they’ve also served as a lovely reminder of just how bleak 2017 actually was.”

As the article goes on to say, “The Year in Review videos are a delightful illustration of how Facebook AI hasn’t quite figured out that it shouldn’t pair negative memories with cute graphics.”

Why it’s hot: A reminder that social media isn’t just fun and games, for better or worse, and we need to be mindful of that as strategists when we think about the context and attitude with which our content is being viewed. Also, what happens when you maybe forget to adjust your content to account for what’s going on in the world that’s causing the daily joys, goals, fears, insecurities and anxieties of your active user base.




You’re Staying Where for the Holidays?

Seeing family over the holidays is one thing, staying the night is another. HotelTonight created digital ads to run across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter that depicts why you might reconsider where you spend the night. The startup’s internal creative team partnered with Odysseus Arms agency and have since doubled brand awareness.

Why is this hot?

The holidays are stressful. Comedic ads in our digital space clearly puts an ease on this.



An AI for Fashion

New York startup Finery has created an AI-powered operating system that will organize your wardrobe.

It provides an automated system that reminds women what options they have, as well as creating outfits for them – saving users a lot of time and money (as they won’t mistakenly buy another grey cashmere jumper if they know they already have three at home).

Users link The Wardrobe Operating System to their email address, so the platform can browse through their mailbox to find their shopping history. All the items they’ve purchased online are then transferred to their digital wardrobe (with 93% accuracy).

Any clothing bought from a bricks-and-mortar shop can be added as well, but that’s done manually by either searching the Finery database for the item or uploading an image (either one you’ve taken or one from the internet). Finery uses Cloud Vision to identify what the object is (skirt, dress, trousers, etc.), the color and the material – then the brand and size can be added manually.

Once your clothing is all uploaded, the platform uses algorithms to recommend outfits based on the pieces you own as well as recommending future purchases that would match with your current items.

Users can also create and save outfits within the platform. And, if they give Finery access to their shopping accounts, the startup will aggregate all their unpurchased shopping cart items into a single Wishlist and alert them when said items go on sale.

Finery will alert its users when the return window for an item they’ve purchased is closing. And it will also let them know if they already own an item that looks similar to one they are planning on buying.

Finery has currently partnered with over 500 stores, equivalent to more than 10,000 brands, to create its online catalog. ‘That covers about ninety percent of the retail market.

Next, the company will be expanding into children’s clothing, and then men’s fashion. And it’s working on developing algorithms to suggest outfit combinations based on weather, location and personal preference, as well as a personalized recommendations tool for items not yet in user’s closets.


Why It’s Hot:

  • This personal “stylist” gives courage to fashion-handicaps (like myself) to shop online with confidence
  • It helps avoid unnecessary fashion splurges – BFD considering the average woman spends $250 -$350K on clothes over their lifetime
  • Acts as a fashion-dream catcher that helps grant your wish list by making purchases easy

Source: Contagious

P.s. Apologies for using a Fox News video but it’s the only one decent one I could find (YUK!!!!)

Google makes trending search fun! with celebrity selfie-videos

This week Google launched a new search feature that will have celebrities answer commonly searched questions about themselves in the form of selfie videos that show up at the top of mobile search results. (Read: Can Will Ferrell play the drums?) Well, now when you search a random celebrity fact, you can hear them answer for themselves. And in all honesty, it is delightful. It seems to be a take on the WIRED Auto-complete series– also delightful.

Why it’s hot:

In a time when every tech platform wants to be a content creator and every content creator wants to be a tech platform, Google’s celeb videos are a smart, sensible way to tickle the fancy of fans who are already searching for their favorite celebs. They live directly in mobile web and through Google-owned apps (seamless) and not just on a standard website video player or YouTube embed. The feature is currently being piloted on mobile in the US, according to Google.

The videos are undeniably engrossing; the full screen vertical video provides the immersion of snapchat, with the swiping navigation of instagram stories, Google has ostensibly brought the best of real-time social content to knowledge-hungry searchers. Let’s just say I never actively desired to know if Tracee Ellis Ross was a vegetarian, but now that I’ve seen the videos I don’t want to un-know it! The unfiltered curiosity of the internet x celebrity press junket= gold. Now Google is on its way to defeat all social media platforms, and the James Corden Celebrity Industrial Complex in one fell swoop.

Facebook is using AI to spot users with suicidal thoughts and send them help

Facebook is using artificial intelligence to scan users’ posts for signs they’re having suicidal thoughts. When it finds someone that could be in danger, the company flags the post to human moderators who respond by sending the user resources on mental health, or, in more urgent cases, contacting first-responders who can try to find the individual.

The social network has been testing the tool for months in the US, but is now rolling out the program to other countries. The tool won’t be active in any European Union nations, where data protection laws prevent companies from profiling users in this way.

In a Facebook post, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he hoped the tool would remind people that AI is “helping save peoples’ lives today.” He added that in the last month alone, the software had helped Facebook flag cases to first responders more than 100 times. “If we can use AI to help people be there for their family and friends, that’s an important and positive step forward,” wrote Zuckerberg.

Despite this emphasis on the power of AI, Facebook isn’t providing many details on how the tool actually judges who is in danger. The company says the program has been trained on posts and messages flagged by human users in the past, and looks for telltale signs, like comments asking users “are you ok?” or “can I help?” The technology also examines live streams, identifying parts of a video that have more than the usual number of comments, reactions, or user reports. It’s the human moderators that will do the crucial work of assessing each case the AI flags and responding.

Although this human element should not be overlooked, research suggests AI can be a useful tool in identifying mental health problems. One recent study used machine learning to predict whether or not individuals would attempt suicide within the next two years with an 80 to 90 percent accuracy. However, the research only examined data from people who had been admitted to a hospital after self-harming, and wide-scale studies on individuals more representative of the general population are yet to be published.

Some may also be worried about the privacy implications of Facebook — a company that has previously worked with surveillance agencies like the NSA — examining user data to make such sensitive judgements. The company’s chief security officer Alex Stamos addressed these concerns on Twitter, saying that the “creepy/scary/malicious use of AI will be a risk forever,” which was why it was important to weigh “data use versus utility.”

However, TechCrunch writer Josh Constine noted that he’d asked Facebook how the company would prevent the misuse of this AI system and was given no response. We’ve reached out to the company to find out more information.

Source: The Verge

Why it’s hot:

  • Artificial Intelligence in marketing is gaining popularity across many brands, however Facebook is utilizing this technology to help people in need.
  • Facebook is notorious for keeping user’s data under lock and key, however, they are taking a look into their user’s life by analyzing their posts and actions.

Amazon Alexa for Business

Amazon announced that they will begin to sell voice-activated tools for the work place, bringing the convenience of voice to the office. The hope is that workers will begin shouting things such as, “Alexa, print my spreadsheet” or “schedule a meeting for me”
New Amazon Echo devices on display in front of the Seattle Space Needle during a promotional event in Seattle on Sept. 27.

Tired of dialing in the conference ID? Just ask Alexa to do it! By simply saying, “Alexa, start the meeting” the software will automatically connect you to the meeting. Additionally, Alexa for Business will be able to use calendars and contact information associated with Microsoft Exchange.

Source: Entrepreneur 

Why It’s Hot: This could be the start of the revolution of transforming the workplace.

Excel is Dead, Long Live Excel

Last week, The Wall Street Journal published an article with the title, “Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staff.” Makes sense, seeing as there are newer applications (even from Microsoft Cloud Solutions) that are better and more accurate. However, hundreds of people went crazy.  A majority of financial excel users refuse to let go of their precious spreadsheets while a minority shared fantasies of pressing CTRL+X and deleting the program from their workflows forever.



Why It’s Hot:

  • As technology evolves and we create better systems there will always be people unwilling/unwanting to change. So how can we communicate evolution to get new product advocates.

Pharma Trend Spotting for 2018

Going into the final month of the year, we should take a look at what could impact pharma marketers in 2018, and it’s identified half a dozen high-level trends for the year ahead.

Those trends range from maturing technology innovations to marketing around patient hero stories that inspire but also normalize people with chronic conditions. And they’re “changing the opportunities and focus for our clients,” Leigh Householder, managing director of innovation at inVentiv Health, said.

Some of the big-theme trends originated in 2017 or even earlier, but they’re just now maturing to opportunity status. For instance, technology innovations like artificial intelligence and augmented reality will begin to play a bigger role in healthcare next year as they move from novelty experiments to real-world tools. A pilot program by England’s NHS, for instance, uses AI as a first contact point for patients and puts a machine in the place of what would traditionally be a human healthcare provider, Householder noted. The NHS pilot actually incorporates another trend, too: the shifting front door to healthcare.

The shifting front door, whether a new kind of technology interface or pharmacists taking on a larger role in ongoing contact and care of patients, has been evolving for years, but it’s become more important for pharma companies to understand and incorporate it into their strategies.

Another trend she pointed to is the emergence of hero stories, in the past year showcased by individuals who broke through with poignant or meaningful tales of helping others, such as boaters in Texas who braved dangerous hurricane floodwaters to help victims. In healthcare and pharma, those can manifest as showing more real people who are living complex lives with chronic diseases, for instance—people who are simply “living normal,” Householder said.  MRM has partnered with WebMD to showcase how patients with bipolar depression live, and it’s very compelling.


WebMD presents Bipolar Disorder: In Our Own Words

“You can imagine why this is happening now when so many once life-ending diagnoses have become chronic diseases. Whether you’re talking about COPD or cancer, cystic fibrosis or AIDS, people are living for decades longer than maybe they ever expected,” she said, pointing to an outspoken advocate, Claire Wineland, who has cystic fibrosis. Wineland has talked to media outlets about “‘what happens when you have an illness and you’re never going to be healthy? Does that mean you’re never going to be anything other than the sick kid?’ We’re increasingly hearing from voices like that of people who just want to normalize disease,” Householder said.

Another example is the introduction of Julia, a muppet with autism, on “Sesame Street.” Julia helps kids understand what autism might look like in another child, and although she has differences, she’s just another one of the gang.

Householder is working on a follow-up white paper about what these trends mean for pharma, but she offered some initial thoughts about ways pharma can adapt. Understanding how people use technology and creating better user interfaces more quickly, for instance, is one area where pharma can improve. Another is at the new and shifting point of care.

“In the new journey in healthcare, how do we be relevant, useful and impactful at the new points of care? Whether that means an artificial intelligence interface, a call delivery of a prescription or a true care interaction with a pharmacist, how are we going to take the plans we have today and evolve them to the places that people are increasingly receiving care and making healthcare decisions?” she said.

Why It’s Hot

As pharma marketers, we need to evolve with how people interact with not only brands but more importantly, conditions.  Offering support in a variety of ways is a smart way to ensure that patients get as much help as they need.



Google Offsets Entire Energy Need With Renewables

Google announced that they are buying enough offsets to cover their entire energy usage. While they are not using 100% renewable energy for all of their needs, they are paying for the production of an equivalent amount of renewables, specifically wind or solar power.

Google’s Senior Lead, Energy & Infrastructure announced on LinkedIn:

535 MW more wind brings Google over 3 GW worldwide — 2*98 MW with Avangrid in South Dakota, 200 MW with EDF in Iowa, and 138.6 MW with GRDA in Oklahoma — cementing Google as the largest corporate purchaser of renewables on the planet @ 100% renewable in 2017!

This is significant because Google uses a LOT of power. The dirty secret of cloud computing used to be how energy intensive they were. However, in the last few years companies have been working to make their servers more efficient. According to this article in Fortune,

The energy use by data centers only grew 4% between 2010 and 2014. In contrast it grew 90% from 2000 to 2005, and 24% from 2005 to 2010. The report predicts that data center energy use will only grow another 4% between 2014 and 202o.

Why it’s hot:

Hopefully this represents a continuing shift towards renewables. The question is whether the shift is happening fast enough to mitigate the very worst effects of climate change.

The guy living next door

For years, hotels have been focused on selling their services to people coming from outside of town instead of those who live and work around it. One of them thinks differently. Hotel group Accor Hotels has launched an app to connect travelers with local businesses. The app also provides non-guests the chance to use its hotel services and use it as a drop off and pick up point for services provided by local businesses. e.g. dry cleaning drop off/pick up.

Why it’s hot: helping local small businesses while finding incremental audiences in a competitive market.

Source: Contagious

tl;dr officially graduates to nm;dr…

Everything you think you know about content consumption on the internet is true.

Notre Dame researchers recently found that 73% of Redditors who volunteered for their study didn’t actually click through to links they upvoted, 84% clicked on content in less than 50% of their pageloads, and 94% did so in less than 40% of their pageloads.

Why it’s hot:

As people, it’s not. We’ve become a headline society.

As we all know, “fake news” is now a legitimate cultural phenomenon, and the lack of investigation and questioning the accuracy or legitimacy of content, opinions, ratings, even social media accounts means manipulative powers that can and have been misused by those with nefarious objectives.

But as marketers, before we make any ad, digital experience, tweet, product, or even business decision, the headline test has never been more important.

A good exercise is to write the positive headlines you hope to see as a result of what you’re thinking of doing, and the potential negative ones. Look at both, then decide the fate and/or form of your effort.


On a much lighter note, as a bonus, Google’s Santa Tracker experience is now live with Santa’s Village. Leading up to the holidays, it’s offering “access to games, a learning experience about holiday traditions around the world, and a Code Lab teaching kids basic coding skills” and an advent calendar unlocking a new game or experience each day between now and Christmas.

The New Religion: AI

There’s a new religion called “Way of the Future” that stems directly from the avid supporters of artificial intelligence. Way of the Future (WOTF) church was founded by Anthony Levandowski otherwise known as Uber’s fired self-driving car engineer. As Wired states, “Levandowski makes an unlikely prophet, dressed Silicon Valley-casual in jeans”.

The principles and the basis of the religion is as expected with this incredulous innovation, it’s said that WOTF’s focus activities will be centered around “the realization, acceptance, and worship of a Godhead based on Artificial Intelligence (AI) developed through computer hardware and software.” The concept of it kind of makes sense, despite being as absurd as it sounds. Levandowski makes a fascinating remark on the purpose of the religion’s creation stating “it’s not a god in the sense that it makes lightning or causes hurricanes. But if there is something a billion times smarter than the smartest human, what else are you going to call it?”

Why it’s hot:
Is this the unifying religion that’ll tie mankind together? Or will robots evolve exponentially and herd humans to study their “creators”?



New, cutting-edge technology lets you… call a website on your phone.

Ok, so maybe it is not on the forefront of new technology, but artist Marc Horowitz’s new website makes wonderful use of existing and familiar technology to bring the experience of a guided museum tour into a new light.

A conceptual artist, Horowitz felt his work needed additional context to be fully appreciated, but did not want to go the traditional route of adding lots of text or creating a video for his portfolio. Instead, created an experience that is part audio tour, part podcast, and part interactive website.

At first glance, HAWRAF’s design looks like a pretty standard portfolio. There are tabs at the top, with images below that represent 32 projects dating all the way back to 2001. But the designers, inspired by the audio tours you’ve probably experienced at a museum or gallery, added another element of interaction. In big block text at the top of the website, it says, “Call 1-833-MAR-CIVE.” When you do, you can hear the artist himself tell you stories about each project by simply dialing the reference number below each image.

As an added bonus, users can choose to read the descriptions rather than dial in, making the experience not only unique, but also accessible for the hearing-impaired.

Why it’s hot

As brands and agencies scramble to adopt bleeding edge technology and embrace the latest trends, it’s worth remembering that existing tools and technology can still be harnessed in interesting and new ways. Fitting the experience to the needs of the brand and the user will always result in a more useful and lasting experience than something ill-suited but fashionable

Learn more at or on