Have you wanted to avoid seats next to babies on flights?

Japan Airlines has started giving passengers as much information as possible to help them decide where they want to sit on a flight in order to avoid sitting too close to a baby.

The move will be a boon for travelers who like to avoid babies.

View image on Twitter

On the other hand, to make traveling parents’ lives easier, the airline provides a number of strollers for rent in the airport, and will accept baby strollers as checked baggage for free.

Passengers traveling with infants also enjoy priority boarding, and offers hot water for bottles as well as diaper changing facilities on board.

Why it’s hot: These little perks can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty for airlines, especially on long-haul flights, and help them compete with other airlines much better.

SOURCE

All drinks are on the house

A new bar opened its doors in St. Louis, and it’s charging customers by the hour. According to Open Concept’s website, when you open a tab, you’re paying for access to the space — not the booze. The rates: $10/hr for a regular open bar, and $20 for top-shelf liquor.

The entire experience is powered by a backend technology that the bar developed and owns. Customers are encouraged to buy their time in advance on the bar’s website, though walk-ins are also accepted. (Guests are able to tip the bartenders either in advance at the door or with cash after each order.) Those who booked online will receive a confirmation code to show at the door; all customers also receive text messages at the bar alerting them as to how much time they have left on their booking.

Open Concept also uses its technology to track all of a customer’s consumption and keep the bar in compliance with legal limits.

Founder and proprietor, Michael Butler, who also moonlights as the city’s current recorder of deeds, got the idea from fundraising parties while running for office after open-bar fundraising events were successful during his campaign.

Why it’s hot:
At a time when younger generations are notoriously cutting back on their alcohol consumption, that flat guaranteed rate might be more valuable than hoping customers keep buying more the longer they stay.

Creators of modern rechargeable batteries share Nobel prize

If you had to slip a couple AAs into your smartphone every morning to check your email, browse Instagram and text your friends, chances are the mobile revolution would not have been quite so revolutionary. Fortunately the rechargeable lithium-ion battery was invented — a decades-long task for which three men have just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

The prize this year honors M. Stanley Whittingham, John Goodenough and Akira Yoshino, all of whom contributed to the development of what is today the most common form of portable power. Without them (and of course those they worked with, and those who came before) we would be tied to even more wasteful and/or stationary sources of energy.

Lead-acid batteries had been in use for nearly a century by the time people really got to thinking about taking things to the next level with lithium, a lightweight metal with desirable electrical properties. But lithium is also highly reactive with air and water, making finding suitable substances to pair it with difficult.

Experiments in the ’50s and ’60s laid the groundwork for more targeted investigations, in particular Whittingham’s. He and partner Fred Gamble showed in 1976 that lithium ions, after donating electrons to produce a charge, fit perfectly into a lattice of titanium disulfide — where they sit patiently (in their “van der Waals gaps”) until an electron is provided during recharging. Unfortunately this design also used a lithium anode that could be highly reactive (think fire) if bent or crushed.

John Goodenough and his team soon developed a better cathode material (where the lithium ions rested) with a much higher potential — more power could be drawn, opening new possibilities for applications. This, combined with the fact that the metallic lithium anodes could be highly reactive (think fire) if bent or crushed, led to increased research on making batteries safe as well as useful.

The three scholars whose work most powerfully advanced this technology from theory to commercial reality were awarded equal shares of this year’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry, each taking home a third of the nearly million dollars and, more importantly, the distinction of being recognized in historic fashion.

Source: TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Makes you realize the innovation we take for granted, as something as seemingly simple as this required decades of work.

Patagonia’s Action Works initiative opens environmental activism cafe to connect Londoners

Patagonia is spearheading a movement to fight back against climate crisis. The company has opened a cafe in London’s Broadway Market, to connect people who want to take climate action but aren’t equipped with the tools.

Within this space for grassroots environmental activism, like-minded individuals have the option to receive activist training, develop their campaigning skills and access a resource library to learn how they can make a difference in the face of the climate crisis.100% of coffee profits are donated to local UK environmental NGOs and charities.

The cafe is a physical outpost of the company’s Action Works initiative, an online platform that allows users to sign petitions, discover local events, donate money to nearby causes and offer their time and skills for volunteering. The platform initially launched in North America and attracted half a million people in supporting environmental issues; the launch has now become Europe-wide.

Why it’s hot: This is a great way for the brand to engage with and add value to urban spaces, in a way that is authentic and true to Patagonia’s 45-year history of activism.

In the words of  Ryan Gellert, EMEA General Manager for Patagonia:

“the urgency of the climate crisis means it’s everyone’s responsibility to act now. Businesses have the money, power and voice to play a major role in saving our home planet – as well as in ensuring that they are not making our environmental problems worse.”

 

As soon as you enter the café there is a range of 24 ‘Action Postcards’ that you can choose from that advise you on how to get involved in climate activism. You can take these cards with you and the different actions you can get involved in depend on the time you can devote to them. These range from advising you on how to ‘Become Carbon Literate’, to ‘Save the Right Whale from extinction’. There are also eight skill cards which offer opportunities to activists to provide skilled volunteering to a range of NGOs in areas such as photography and accountancy.

Books written by leaders and experts are around the café to help you get into the mind of an activist and inspire you to take action. Outside of the walls of the café there are also environmental groups who are there to help you engage in climate action. Sign up to workshops, discussions and free activities to educate yourself on how to tackle the climate crisis. Or simply go along to have a chat about the environment with people who are care about the planet.

Source: EuroNews 

The real thing I want to discuss

Amazon’s main rivals secretly funding critical ‘grassroots’ campaign

Politically and socially Amazon has its vocal enemies, but now it’s business rivals are ‘secretly’ getting into the action as well…

“Since it launched 18 months ago, ‘Free and Fair Markets Initiative’ has accused Amazon of stifling competition and innovation, endangering the lives of its warehouse workers, data breaches and an over acceptance of government subsidies.

At its launch, it claimed to have grassroots support from average US citizens. According to reports from the Wall Street Journal, this was not the case, and Walmart, Oracle and Simon Property Group are in fact secret funders behind the campaign.”

Article (The Drum / WSJ) 
Video 

Why it’s Hot:
2019 is a very weird time to be alive – particularly when you have Walmart secretly donating to an organization calling out the labor practices of an even bigger corporation
.
I think it’s hot because there is obviously a growing demand for ethical companies and it’s always interesting how massive corporations are duking it out.

ADDITIONAL NEWS: 
Refinery29 acquired by VICE Media  + Pop Sugar acquired by Group Nine
+  Viacom, NBC Universal, Fox and Univision create new audience buying platform OpenAP

Hot: A bunch of media offerings are consolidating.

MediaMonks acquires boutique agency Firewood 

Hot: Because Media Monks is reinventing the content production model and now going upstream.

 

Adult Gushers or Whiskey Tide Pods?

There is a wrong way to consume alcohol

When The Glenlivet announced with a video that it would be serving three cocktail combinations in edible ‘whisky pods’, the Twitterverse exploded with opinions, most of which came from people who had never tried the whisky delivery units.

Since then, the pods have been ridiculed, compared to Tide Pods, called evil, a “bad idea” and an “abomination” by whisky purists.

It started with a video on 4 October demonstrating “an original whisky drinking experience” with glamour shots of the three pods.

The Glenlivet partnered with sustainable packaging company Notpla and co-owners of Tayer + Elementary, Alex Kratena and Monica Berg, to create three original cocktails for the capsules, which are inspired by the elements and flavours of The Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve: Citrus, Wood and Spice. The company states that the ‘Capsule Collection’ of glassless cocktails would “redefine the way whisky is traditionally enjoyed”.

Each 23ml capsule holds 0.77oz of alcohol, roughly half a typical shot.

But here’s the funny thing – aside from the idea – it’s only available through October 13 and only at London Cocktail Week.

why its hot

How do you make whiskey classier? Whiskey is already pretty classy. Glenlivet says they’ve “redefined how whiskey can be enjoyed,” but people who drink whiskey already enjoy it. It totally removes the social aspect of drinking. Unless you want to stand around with your friends eating whiskey gushers.

You can still be a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid

Toys ‘R’ Us back… sort-of…

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Tru Kids, the owner of the Toys ‘R’ Us brand is “bringing back the Toys ‘R’ Us brand in a modern way through a strong experiential and content-rich omnichannel concept,” Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids, said in a statement.

Learning from its prior mistakes of not embracing technology and a digital transformation, this relaunch is purely digital and content-focused in nature, partnering with Target and Candytopia to help with ecommerce and real-life, memorable experiences.

Dubbed “The Toys R Us Adventure,” the company partnered with Candytopia to create the experiential pop-ups in Chicago and Atlanta and feature more than a dozen interactive play rooms, larger-than-life toys, and installations featuring Geoffrey, the brand’s giraffe mascot.

Why it’s hot: Toys ‘R’ Us’ was the poster child for death by tech, with its rejection of ecommerce and digital transformation. Now the company is trying to show everyone it can learn from its mistakes. The question is, will the nostalgia of Toys ‘R’ Us be enough to drive expensive experiential store visits. It’ll be interesting to see if this attempt at jumping into the digital deep end will have a happy ending. If it does work, will we start seeing the return of other brands who failed to innovate? Blockbuster Video? Tower Records?

Sources: FastCo, Business Insider, ToysRUs.com, Forbes

 

Toys ‘R’ Us: Back Like it Never Left

Months ago we said farewell to a childhood friend. Adulthood told us to put away childish things but maybe there’s still reason to hold on.

Toys ‘R’ Us is back with a full online experience through a partnership with Target. Users that visit toysrus.com will be redirected to Target.com after hitting the “buy” button under any product to complete a purchase.

Toys “R” Us would be able to quickly establish cash flow from the still top-ranked, well-established domain name toysrus.com, while Target could get an influx of new sales from shoppers who visited ToysRUs.com, unaware of the toy chain’s bankruptcy and relaunch.

Why it’s hotter than the Red Ranger:

  1. Because nostalgia.
  2. This isn’t Target’s only deal. Target also secured a deal with Disney to open mini-stores within a location where shoppers can purchase official Disney apparel and products. I would assume Target wants to become a marketplace similar to Amazon. It will be interesting to see how the war between Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Target pans out.

Plastic-Eating Bacteria Is Solving Our Plastic Problem

Scientists from Hitachi and Cambridge Consultants, an engineering and product development company, are using synthetic biology to manufacture a plastic-eating enzyme with the goal of being used in recycling plants or in the environment—and potentially even in the ocean, where as much as 12.7 million metric tons of plastic ends up every year. Essentially, it’s seemingly a hands-off solution to the plastic problem.

“Attacking the problem biologically means that you have the ability to come up with a range of solutions,” says James Hallinan, business development manager of synthetic biology at Cambridge Consultants.

“It’s really about the engineering of biology, making it predictable and definable and reproducible,” he says. “And this idea that, in the future, more and more products are going to be made via a biological process, as compared to the old traditional way of making things from chemicals, and in particular petrochemicals.”

The company has also been looking into ways to make plastic biologically instead of from petrochemicals, but the current issue is obviously the plastic that exists (a 2017 study estimated that of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic that humans had produced since the material was invented, around 6.3 billion tons ended up as waste; only 9% was recycled). It’s interesting because we hear of packaging becoming more sustainable, recycling, etc. but little about what to do with the plastic that is already here which is why this company is particularly interesting.

Around the world, there are several other research projects exploring the potential of these plastic-eating enzymes. In the U.K., scientists studying the Japanese bacteria accidentally created a version of the bacteria’s enzyme that worked even better, breaking down plastic bottles in days rather than weeks. At the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in the U.S., scientists are also working on the enzyme—called PETase, because it can eat PET plastic—to make it work faster. Researchers in Germany studied the structure of PETase to optimize it. And in France, a startup called Carbios has developed its own enzyme, which can fully break down PET plastic so it can be recycled into new, consumer-grade plastic of the same quality as virgin PET.

Something that makes this strategy unique is that the plastic doesn’t have to be clean and can be broken down completely. “We take these plastics back down to some of their precursor components, and then they are maybe in a better position then to be reused and reincorporated into new materials,” Hallinan says.

They are also concerned about the effect on the environment by the actual product of the enzyme and its outputs as it breaks down the plastic.“They have a recognition that they’ve got a responsibility to both their customers and also to the planet in general to ensure that what they’re developing and the products they make for the planet are good for the planet, in the long run,” says Hallinan.

Why its hot:

Companies like PepsiCo and Nestlé are now partnering with the company, which plans to begin building its first demonstration plant this fall. The collaboration will include technical milestones and support for the efficient supply of consumer-grade, 100% recycled PET plastics for their global markets.

Also, what if the enzyme got somewhere it wasn’t supposed to be and started to eat all plastic i.e. tables, boats, shoes, etc.?

Source

Louis Vuitton invests in Madhappy because mental health is the new luxury?

Fast Company: Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy (LVMH), the conglomerate that owns many of the world’s best-known luxury brands, has just invested in a startup called Madhappy.

Madhappy Cofounder Peiman Raf says that the brand is on a mission to make the world a more optimistic place by creating conversations around mental health.

Madhappy is not the first “optimistic lifestyle brand” promoting mental health awareness, (Life Is Good has done very well promoting optimism) so why is LVMH investing in Madhappy, and why now?

Life Is Good is genuine, but not cool. Madhappy is cool, and embedded in a sense of coolness is a sense of exclusivity, regardless of how much Madhappy’s cofounder talks about wanting the brand to be inclusive: “Growing up, we found that many streetwear labels seemed to be very exclusive, and we wanted to create a brand that was the opposite of that,” he says.

On trend colors and aloof models helps the coolness. Celebrity endorsements also can’t hurt: Gigi Hadid, Steph Curry, Katy Perry, and Cardi B have all been seen wearing Madhappy.

Irony alert: Coolness is about being in the in-crowd, but to have an in-crowd requires there to be outsiders. The coolness of Madhappy plays right into the social anxieties at the foundation of the mental health problems it claims to want to solve.

Why it’s hot?

1. This trend of brands aligning themselves with social issues speaks to our ongoing negotiation on the role we want brands to play in our lives. (See this week’s Lululemon post) If talking about mental health is cool, will more people get the help they need?

2. It seems the mental-health meme has reached a critical-enough mass in pop culture to be deemed profitable as a brand identity for a streetwear company. How much money from its $70 t-shirt sales Madhappy might dedicate to mental health initiatives remains to be seen.

3. How much of its target market’s mental health problems are a result of the culture that creates the conditions on which a Madhappy can thrive?

You can now practice firing someone in virtual reality

Meet Barry, you are about to ruin his day, over and over and over again. ‘his sole purpose in life is to listen patiently, and then protest or sob a little as you fire him from an imaginary job in virtual reality.’

Barry was created for managers to work on and practice the ‘soft skill’ of firing someone in Virtual reality. Created by Talespin, a VR workplace training company.

He will protest, put his head in his hands, sob and other actions will have him shout and yell.

Many people are using these VR tools for training.  Imagine a world with perfect interactions. You try to ask someone out on a date and you have a chatbot for that and their personality type, or you strike up conversations based on how you interact. What if it went as far as making a room laugh, because you practiced it, it can work out well.

What ways can this become an opportunity for us?

What if ADT had a VR set where you watch someone ransack your house and you can’t stop them. Or an interaction with your home and a sort of meditation where the idea of safety and comfort are a focus, you dim the lights to a blue color, and that promotes safety, or different shades of blue.

What if we created what MIT did with designers:

So maybe not 100% but what if our maps were VR? Each decision point would pop up and then you would chose which way to go. Like an adventure game.

You can now practice firing someone in virtual reality

Lululemon is helping the UN’s humanitarian aid workers take care of themselves

The United Nations Foundation along with the athleisure-wear brand Lululemon created Peace on Purpose, a program that provides UN development and humanitarian workers with yoga and mindfulness training to help counteract stress, strengthen leadership, and build resiliency. According to Calvin McDonald, Lululemon’s CEO, the program was created specifically with the needs of humanitarian workers in mind.

“They face unique pressures and challenging situations, and the program provides insights into mindfulness for a variety of situations,” McDonald told Fast Company in an email, explaining that they tailored yoga, meditation, and mindfulness training programs to UN staff and local leaders.

Lululemon has built a social impact program into its corporate culture, including one element, dubbed Here to Be, that helps communities access yoga, meditation, and mindfulness. It’s supported more than 300 nonprofit organizations since 2016 and knew the program can help in even the most stressful environments.

“With expert help, we have created a robust training program that has equipped more than 650 UN staff across eight countries with tools to support their mental health and well-being,” says Calvin. “Our research suggests that the program helps reduce risks like anxiety and depression.”

Lululemon says it has committed a further $1 million to grow the program over the next three years to provide self-care to over 30,000 UN employees.

Why it’s hot: This is a great effort from Lululemon that helps their brand affinity expand beyond product to stand for something more meaningful.

Source: FastCo

Unmundane the world

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A new way to visualize everyday data. Here’s how artist Susie Lu describes it:

“Data visualization shouldn’t be a niche field. It’s information design, it’s design, it’s communication–and given that lens its application can be both broad and impactful.

With this in mind, I brainstormed ideas for projects, and was particularly compelled by thinking of ways that data visualization could be used to redesign everyday experiences. I wanted to find commonplace data that we take for granted or perhaps ignore completely. After thinking about objects we see but rarely engage with, the idea I was most excited to start exploring was a remake of the receipt.

Two goals I thought were applicable to a redesign:

  • Highlight the cost of each item in an easy to scan design (right now each item takes up the same space regardless of cost)
  • Inspire and provoke the audience to question “Why couldn’t everyday objects like receipts use data visualization?”

THE DESIGN

I started by taking a recent grocery receipt and constrained myself to use only the price data and categories. The categories I added myself — this was metadata I found on another grocery receipt example I had from a neighboring grocery store.

Working with the thermal printer added several physical constraints:

  • The one I used was even smaller in width than the original receipt.
  • I could only use black and white.
  • Through test prints I found it couldn’t print solid horizontal lines, so I had to work with patterns.

At the top I’ve summarized the categories into a bubble chart. I wanted to pick a visualization that separated itself visually from the bar charts below and didn’t take up too much space. Bubble charts aren’t the most effective for precise comparison, but they can give a good approximation of similar sized items and rank. In this case, Meat & Seafood and Produce stand out as the top two categories, with Seasoning and Eggs & Dairy trailing after.

I added two affordances to enhance comparison and compensate for the more difficult comparison of circle sizes: All the larger bubbles have the percentage labeled and the largest bubbles also include icons. I decided to include icons partially so you could relate the summary section and the list area but mostly because I found the icons fun (remember fun??).”

Why its hot?
By visualizing something we hardly look at, it can change our relationship with receipts (and other everyday experiences).
Beyond the idea of visualization, it’s relevance has the power to change behavior and attitude towards mundane everyday things.

Source: https://susielu.com/data-viz/reviziting-the-receipt

Look at this Meme!

When meme’s collide! In order to understand today’s politics — it’s time to KNOW YOUR MEME. In order to understand why a Nickelback song from 2008 is trending on Twitter today.

This story starts at the global turn against the band. There is debate about when the tide turned. It’s either:

  1. A general outgrowing and distaste for grunge that sounds like a copy of a copy
  2. Chad Kroeger’s voice that some might say sounds like “a creepy maroon 5”
  3. A very embarassing UK furniture advertisement:

About the meme: according to Know Your Meme, “On April 27th, 2015, YouTuber Euphemism for Magic uploaded a video titled “Nickelstats,” in which Kroeger is shown holding a framed bar graph while singing “Look at this graph” (shown below). The same day, the video was submitted to the /r/youtubehaiku subreddit, where it received upwards of 4,500 votes (95% upvoted) and 120 comments in the first two weeks.”

It’s since been a long parodied meme and had huge success on Vine.

Apparently Trump tried to use the meme this morning to further his story against Hunter Biden.

However as you can see, Nickelback reported the video for copyright infringement…

Maybe Nickleback is due for a comeback?

Photograph by Nickelback also happens to be Shantie’s favorite song….

Why It’s Hot?

I personally love the depth of understanding that’s required for internet memes. But it’s a language that so many are fluent in, maybe without even understanding all the parts…

Whoop and Sober October

Whoop is trying to appeal to the everyday athlete (and person) by promoting “Sober October” via Joe Rogan’s podcast. Sober October, a tradition that reportedly got started about a decade ago in Australia, has gained popularity as the new Dry January. Ahmed says it ties directly into the brand’s mission, because so much of our body’s strength is derived from how well we sleep. “Alcohol has a huge effect on your quality of sleep,” he says. “You get way less slow-wave and REM sleep than you normally would. REM sleep is when your mind is repairing, and slow-wave sleep is when your body produces 95% of its human growth hormone. So this idea that you get stronger in the gym is false. You get get stronger when your body’s repairing your muscles.”

Rogan opened the podcast by telling listeners about Whoop, and how it’s not just for pro athletes but “even losers like us” to improve their recovery, training, sleep, and make better lifestyle choices. “This month, I’ll be wearing my Whoop 24/7 to understand the impact of sobriety has on my body. LOL,” said Rogan. “I’m a big fan of this company. I’m a big fan of the kind of analytics that this Whoop strap provides you.”

All told, it was a two-minute ad on one of the world’s most popular podcasts, plus Whoop was worked into the conversation throughout the almost three-hour episode. Whoop CEO Will Ahmed says partnering with Rogan is a perfect fit for his brand. “We’ve been a big fan of Joe Rogan’s for a while now. I think he speaks to biohacking and human performance in a lot of different contexts, and our mission at Whoop is to unlock human performance,” he says. He hopes that aligning Whoop with some of the most popular comics in the country is a perfect way to do that. “Joe Rogan and his friends have mass-market appeal, and a really wide listener base,” says Ahmed. [Rogan has one of the most popular podcasts and YouTube shows of any stripe, while Kreischer’s Bertcast, Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank, and Segura’s Your Mom’s House are also chart-topping comedy podcasts.] “For Whoop, we’ve been generally focused on certain markets that are maybe a bit more health and fitness focused. We see this as an opportunity to expand our reach and have more people aware of the brand. Ultimately, we’ve built technology that can really help anyone motivated to improve.”

Source: FastCo

 

Amtrak axes dining cars

Why it’s hot: Amtrak claims that switching to packaged food and allowing passengers to pre-select and pre-order meals will save it $2 million a year.

So is this really about cost savings or lack of consumer demand for hot food and tablecloth dining services?

I think it’s about cost savings over anything else. Millennials have killed many things, but I doubt they’re responsible for the death of the Amtrak dining car.

SOURCE

Adults acting like children

The Greta Thunberg helpline: for adults angry at a child. A smart way to comment on the madness.

Why it’s hot: Social impact work doesn’t need to be earnest. Comedic elements can work if they honor the intent of the organization and message.

Like this satirical video game from the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. Players are U.S. representatives trying to avoid pressure from the gun lobby. If they make it to the Capital to sign gun legislation, they receive a message: “Congratulations! You did your job. Now send this game to a member of Congress and tell them to do theirs.”

Taking aim at elected officials who placed part of the blame on the “glorification of violence” (like video games) in society following recent mass shootings, the game proposes that if violent video games can cause gun violence, then a video game can also end gun violence.

Sources: Mashable, AdAge

Kill ’em with kindness

Last week, the University of California opened the world’s first institute to study kindness. The idea would be to pool the knowledge gleaned from researchers and house all of their insight about kindness in one place.

A few topics the institute is looking to dive deeper into include:

  • Why does a person give up his or her seat on the train?
  • Why does somebody volunteer his or her time to help someone in need?
  • How does kindness spread, and does being kind impact our brains?

Researchers even agreed on an academic definition for kindness: an act that enhances the welfare of others as an end in itself.

But it’s not all philosophical. Data from UCLA scientists has already shown mindfulness and kindness alter the behavior of genes, turning down those that promote inflammation, which can lead to heart disease or certain cancers and turning up the activity of genes that protect against infections.

Why it’s hot
As student enrollment continues to decline and people opt for nontraditional career paths, public and private higher education institutions are adding programs and offerings with seemingly little strategy behind them. Since 2012, 41,446 degrees or certificate programs have been added across the country.

UConn offers a BFA, an MA, and an MFA in Puppet Arts. One can get a degree in bagpiping from Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh. Even Notre Dame offers an interdisciplinary academic field called Peace Studies.

Will these new offerings drive action and shift the “is college worth it” narrative that continues to be omnipresent? The verdict is still out.

Sources: National Center for Education Studies; NPR

helsinki, now available for demo…

Helsinki, Finland has just relaunched as the world’s first “city as a service”.

Ok, not really, but it’s how the city is pitching itself in order to woo tech talent to move there.

Per TrendWatching – “Finnish capital Helsinki launched a lighthearted campaign called City as a Service in an attempt to attract new tech talent. A platform and video pitches the CaaS to viewers, explaining that Helsinki has ‘over 640,000 daily active users’ and boasts an ‘API’ that supports excellent healthcare and public transport. Meanwhile, the city’s Mayor – billed as the CEO – explains that the winter darkness and flat skyline are not technical bugs but ‘carefully considered features’. Visitors to the platform are encouraged to apply for a ‘free demo trip’; 15 people will be chosen for a free trip to Helsinki in November.”

Apply for your free demo here.

And if you’re interested in the Freemium model, it boasts features like:

> Surprisingly ok beaches
> Drink the famous Finnish tap water
> Dip in a hole in ice
> Santa Claus lives only a 14h drive away
> Highest density of heavy metal bands in the world

Why It’s Hot:

Unexpected delivery is one of the best ways to catch attention. Marry that with the ability to demonstrate an understanding of the language and world of your target, and you can make magic that creates compelling connections. Whether or not it works, it shows Helsinki cares about the people it’s talking to, and respects them enough to go beyond the rational RTBs (although it has those too) to drive an extremely emotional decision of where to live.

Get paid to drink Pepsi (and eat Fritos)…

Pepsi is launching a PepCoin loyalty program that rewards you for buying both a single-serve beverage and a Frito-Lay snack by sending money to PayPal and Venmo accounts. If you scan enough codes on bottles and bags, you’ll receive a little bit of cash. You’ll have to earn $2 before it goes to your account, but this is real spending money.

How it works:

  • Buy a PepsiCo beverage and Frito-Lay snack.
  • Scan the codes on the bag and under the bottle cap with your phone.
  • Link the program to your PayPal or Venmo.
  • Once you accumulate $2, the money automatically transfers to your account with Venmo or PayPal.

It’s not a dollar for dollar point system, each transaction earns a person about 37 cents. So, like, 5.4 purchases.

Why it’s hot: Companies with multiple brands are increasingly using loyalty programs as a vehicle to sell across their portfolio and drive awareness of the many different products within it. With the exception of credit and debit cards, that apply cash back as a credit to your account, cash back incentives in the form of actual cash have yet to be tested (as far as I could tell). Truly successful loyalty programs thrive on creating engaging experiences and emotional connections with their consumers — it’ll be interesting to see whether Pepcoin will be able to establish a true connection with customers, past the initial shock and enroll stage and whether it’ll change how loyalty and rewards programs provide benefits to consumers in the future.

Sources: Engadget, Thrillist, MediaPostPYMNTS.com, Pepcoin, Pepsi press release

Meet Mattel’s New Gender-Neutral Dolls

Mattel released the new Creatable World doll this week, the world’s first gender-neutral dolls designed to “keep labels out and everyone in.” The dolls are designed for children who identify as transgender, gender-fluid or nonbinary.

Mattel is hoping to redefine who gets to play with a toy traditionally deemed taboo for half the world’s kids. The dolls are designed to look like kids with makeup-free faces and can be a boy, a girl, neither or both. There are no Barbie-like breasts or broad, Ken-like shoulders. Each doll in the Creatable World series looks like a 7-year-old with short hair, and comes with optional wigs and a gender-neutral wardrobe.

The company is betting on where it thinks the country is going, even if it means alienating a substantial portion of the population. A Pew Research survey conducted in 2017 showed that while 76% of the public supports parents’ steering girls to toys and activities traditionally associated with boys, only 64% endorse steering boys toward toys and activities associated with girls.

Mattel tested the doll with 250 families across seven states, including 15 children who identify as trans, gender-nonbinary or gender-fluid and rarely see themselves reflected in the media, let alone their playthings. Mattel sees an even broader potential for Creatable World beyond gender-creative kids. In testing, children chafed at labels and mandates no matter their gender identity: They didn’t want to be told whom a toy was designed for or how to play with it. They were delighted with a doll that had no name and could transform and adapt according to their whims.

Scientists have debunked the idea that boys are simply born wanting to play with trucks and girls wanting to nurture dolls. And yet creating a doll to appeal to all kids, regardless of gender, remains risky. But Mattel has taken risks in this area before. In 2016, it added three new body types to the Barbie; tall, petite and purvey.

“This is a rallying cry of this generation,” says Jess Weiner, a cultural consultant for large companies looking to tap into modern-day markets and navigate issues of gender. “Companies in this day and age have to evolve or else they die, they go away … And part of that evolving is trying to understand things they didn’t prior.”

Why it’s hot: This launch is an exciting advancement in the more traditional industry of children’s toys that have been late to adapt with the times. I’m curious to see how sales will be for these dolls because although millennial parents have advocated for less gender-specific children’s toys for years, not all parents agree or are comfortable with the idea of their sons “playing with dolls.”

Source

Get tackled

https://twitter.com/Jason15Robinson/status/1172529834792296449

https://twitter.com/MastercardUK/status/1172524888512520192

Mastercard: sponsor of Rugby World Cup

As the official sponsor of the Rugby World Cup, Mastercard set up a environment where fans experienced a “contactless tackle”. Rugby fans are brought closer to the game by experiencing the sensation of a professional tackle. This is possible with a special suit made by Teslasuit.  You see a rugby player storming towards you and you have to choose between dodging or taking the hit. If you’re too late, you feel the impact via pressure made within the suit. The goal of the experience is to bring the fans closer to the action, and to encourage and inspire people  to get involved with rugby ahead of the world cup in Japan.
The experience leverages VR and haptic suit by Teslasuit.

Why it’s hot
If you have ever wondered what it feels like to be tackled by a professional rugby player, this is as real as its going to get!. Plus it’s a nice way to own the conversation around contactless payment.

 

Tinder Created a Show to Give Its Users Something to Hook Up About

For all of their success, swipe-y dating apps like Tinder or Bumble face a problem once their users have matched: It’s hard to find things to discuss with total strangers. What exactly are you supposed to say in response to “”?

In an effort to solve this, Tinder has created a scripted choose-your-own adventure series that it hopes will supply its young users with raw material for conversations on its platform. The goal is to counteract that chronic dating-app issue: conversations that die almost as soon as they begin.

The project, called SwipeNight, consists of four episodes. One will air each week on the Tinder app. In each episode, users who participate will be ushered through an apocalyptic scenario and prompted to make a series of choices, from the seemingly unimportant (how to best D.J. a party) to the critical (whose life to save). The show features a cast of young diverse actors and, like a video game, gives the user a first-person perspective on the action.

Participants will then show up in each other’s lists of potential matches. Some of the choices they made during the show will be visible on their profiles. That is when, the company hopes, a number of those people will swipe right on each other and talk about what they experienced.

Last year Tinder set up a team to survey hundreds of young people. This research helped the company see members of Generation Z as fundamentally different from older generations: Gen Z’s immense comfort on social platforms and immense discomfort with defining relationships, or even using words like “dating” and “flirting.”

SwipeNight also looks to take advantage of their facility with the raw material of pop culture.

“They speak in gifs, they react in emojis, they talk in stories,” said Elie Seidman, the chief executive of Tinder, of 18-to-25-year-olds, who already make up more than 50 percent of the app’s user base.

Tinder allows users little space to provide information about themselves on their profiles. That can lead to a particular shortage of subjects to discuss. On Tinder, Mr. Seidman said, approaching strangers is much easier than it is offline. “But you get to the next thing, and there’s no context,” he said. “What’s the context? ‘Oh, you’re also on Tinder.’ ‘Like, yeah, obviously.’”

Tinder has traditionally been viewed as a predate experience. SwipeNight looks to collapse some elements of a first date — the mutual experience of some diversion — into its platform.

Episodes of SwipeNight will be available on Tinder on Sundays in October from 6 p.m. to midnight in a user’s time zone. For now, the show will be available only to Americans.

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

Unexpected time and place for what essentially is content marketing to drive stickiness with a platform. I do wonder if it’s too “cheesy” for Gen Z daters though?

Come Fly with Me, Lets Fly, Lets Fly to JFK

You have a flight coming up? You need to get to JFK? Forget about giving yourself time, just take Ubercopter which launched today for all Uber users. (Soft launch was in the summer for Premium members).

You can only take it to one place in Lower Manhattan near the Staten island ferry. Order a seat for $200-225. And you have to watch a safety video before takeoff. Using the helicopters operated from HeliFlite Shares a licensed company.

Also, the copter only shows up if you’re in the geofenced lower Manhattan area.

They say its price is comparative to other companies doing the same thing. But Uber does offer on ground transportation after your flight.

It’s hot not because its helicopters that don’t actually solve a problem, it only solves procrastination but so would hiring an assistant for a day at 200-225.It IS hot because this is a stepping stone for UberAir their all electric ride sharing network launching in 2023. But they have to really burn through a little more fossil fuel before they can go electric.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uber-copter/uber-makes-jfk-airport-helicopter-taxis-available-to-all-users-idUSKBN1WI13N?feedType=RSS&feedName=technologyNews

https://www.engadget.com/2019/10/03/uber-copter-jfk-trips-october-7/

In Japan, the Pager Passes from Existence to Nostalgia

After 50 years, pager service in Japan officially ended at midnight, Oct. 1, when Tokyo Telemessage Inc shut down it’s remaining radio signals in Tokyo and the Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures.

The pager (or “Pocket Bell” in Japanese) was first used in Japan in 1968 for travelling sales staff. By 1996, pagers were used by 10 million people and had become “one of the defining symbols of a subculture among female high school students along with ‘loose socks’ and taking photos in puri-kura photo booths.” With the introduction of cell phones and email service, usage declined.

Why it’s hot: 

In an era where technology cycles so quickly, old technologies become sources of nostalgia and symbols of history. Fortunately, in American we still have time to give the pager a proper goodbye as they are still used in 80% of U.S. hospitals because of their ability to send signals in cellular dead zones.

Silent Drive-Thru: An Introvert’s Dream Come True?

Multinational fast-food chains conforming their menus to cultural tastes is as old as Pulp Fiction’s Royal Cheese. Agency Superson helped Burger King Finland take this to another level, playing off the stereotype of shy Finns. Understanding it as an experience product, Burger King applied this concept to the drive thru, nodding to the common Finnish sensibility of reticence.

The brief was to increase app use, so they reconfigured the ol’ stand-by of the drive thru, to show how fast and easy it was to order via their app.

The spot is playful and funny, placing fast-food ordering into the realm of a clandestine caper.

And it turns out, it’s not just the Finns who resent talking to the muffled voice of the drive-thru.

Why it’s hot: Nodding to local culture inherently endears customers to the brand. The sense of collective understanding, and feeling known is a powerful bonding agent.

The drive-thru model didn’t align with the value proposition of the app, wherein you could order ahead and pick-up, so rethinking the model required a relatable story to encourage users to do the same.

Source: Contagious

 

KitKat Kranes

In an effort to cut down on plastic waste, KitKat has changed the packaging of its chocolate bars in Japan.

Rather than using plastic, the Nestlé brand is wrapping its chocolate treats in high strength paper that is both rain and snow resistant. The packaging is fully recyclable and has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

KitKat is also encouraging its customers to use the wrappers for other purposes like writing messages or creating origami shapes and figures. The packaging includes instructions on how to make origami paper cranes.

The initiative is predicted to save around 380 tons of plastic packaging annually, according to the brand.

Why it’s Hot:

Actions speak louder than words. With conversations around sustainability and environmental protection continuing to grow, taking the steps to better your products goes a lot further than a big flashy spot about “going green.” Plus, adding the origami tutorial to the packaging brings added value to the product.

Source

Night Feeding Just Got an Oz. Better

Launched in the UK recently, the Night Feed app is part of a great wave of innovations that are geared at providing real empathy for the female experience. It provides moms entertainment, useful content and a community of other mothers to connect during the lonely midnight feeding hours.


Source: https://www.phoenixmag.co.uk/article/model-and-content-queen-ruth-crilly-is-launching-a-night-feed-app-to-combat-new-mum-loneliness/ 

It’s been positioned as a “virtual sancuaty for the sleep deprived” and includes interviews with pediatricians and midwives, guides for breast feeding clothes, book clubs, and other interest-based groups.

 “IT’S HARD TO PUT YOURSELF IN THE POSITION OF SOMEONE WHO IS THAT SLEEP DEPRIVED – With both kids, I’ve felt so lonely during the nights. No one else is up and you feel knackered and resentful… THE APP STEMS FROM WHEN I WAS IN THAT HEADSPACE”

Why It’s Hot: The app goes beyond regular baby feeding apps that only monitor feeding times and amounts, it shows real understanding and emapthy for the real female experience.

Don’t go unnoticed, meet Follower.

Follower is a service that grants you a real life Follower for a day. A no-hassle unseen companion. Someone that watches, someone that sees you, someone who cares.

In order to be followed, you answer two questions:

Why do you want to be followed?
Why should someone follow you?

If you are selected, you are given an app to download, and you wait. You don’t know when it will happen. The following lasts one day. At the end, you are left with one photo of you, taken by your Follower. The Follower stays just out of sight, but within your consciousness.

What is the relationship between attention and surveillance? There are sites you can go to to buy online followers, $10 can get you 1000 followers. We have this intense desire to be seen, to feel connected. But is that desire really fulfilled by watching your follower count tick upward? Could a real life follower provide something more meaningful or satisfying?

 

 

 

Why it’s hot: 
There is little doubt we live in a surveillance state. And yet we continue to engage with faceless followers to assuage an intense desire to be seen. How do we reconcile these competing concepts? Follower flips the interface of app and user to renegotiate these relationships and find optimism in what cultural pundits have deemed a doomsday scenario.

WeWork….more like WeWTF

WeWork To Adjust Corporate Governance, Valuation Ahead Of IPO

https://www.businessinsider.com/nyu-professor-calls-wework-wewtf-and-slams-bankers-2019-8

We’s plans for a $20 billion public offering have been hampered by questions about its corporate governance and the ultimate value of a company that private investors, through multiple rounds of funding, once thought was worth nearly $50 billion.

But under the scrutinizing spotlight of the IPO process, investors have been publicly and privately balking at that sky-high valuation and the company’s questionable governance practices under chief executive officer and co-founder, Adam Neumann, according to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the news that The We Company would put its offering on hold

Over the past few weeks, The We Company — which has expanded to include a boutique hotel operation, members-only financial services and a charter yacht service (!) — has made several moves to allay investors’ concerns. The company unwound some particularly egregious transactions with Neumann and added new directors. It also moved to limit Neumann’s power at the company.

WHY ITS HOT:

Classic example of fake tech/digital company that was overvalued by a few investors in the private market. Other “tech” unicorns will be going public and will see what they are really worth in the public market.

Co-Working is not going anywhere if you believe the future of work is freelance and flexible office space for enterprise companies becomes a trend to control expenses and long term leases. The problem is you cant put a software and tech multiple on a business that is in real-estate. See plant based meat IPOs, etc.