It’s Game Time: Tracking the 2019 Super Bowl Ads

Image result for super bowl mercedes benz atlantaIt’s the week before the Big Game and some advertisers have already started rolling out sneak peeks and in some cases, full ads.

Up first, Stella Artois released their full ad on Monday, which features two memorable characters coming together to pitch the Belgian pilsner.  The unlikely duo of Carrie Bradshaw and The Dude were brought together for the beer brand’s Change Up the Usual campaign.

Lil Jon is tempting the fates of losing his “Atlanta” card by partnering with Pepsi in a trailer for the Big Game, which takes a mocking tone towards Pepsi’s rival Coca-Cola and its Perfect Pour.  Standby for if Lil Jon will be invited back to his hometown after Sunday’s game in the ATL.

ASMR is a hot trend right now.  Pepsi is creating its interpretation using Cardi B and Michelob Ultra is leveraging Zoe Kravitz in its version of the kooky internet phenomenon.

Take a look at the rest of the ads and teasers here: Adweek

If you want to get in on live action, this year 3 Percent Conference is expanding on their Super Bowl Tweet Up, by rolling out locations in cities including Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.  To find out more, go here: https://www.3percentmovement.com/tweetup

And if you want to vote for your favorites and not so favorites, you can visit USA Today’s Ad Meter to cast your vote! http://admeter.usatoday.com/ 

Why Its Hot:

Its the Super Bowl.  And at over $5M for a 30 second spot, this ad arena is not for the faint of heart, or the light in the wallet.  But overall trends here, will dictate the direction for brands and advertisers in 2019.  Agencies will need to quickly have POVs for the winners and the losers and how we can use those learnings to guide future creative requests.   Watch this space for a recap of the winners and the losers next week!

Somehow Hagfish Technology is the Future

I don’t know how. But it is.

Trending now, after a truck accident that left one car covered in slime. People are having hagfish fever!

What is a Hagfish? It’s an eel like isopod that creates a slick slime when threatened. According to The Atlantic, “typically, a hagfish will release less than a teaspoon of gunk from the 100 or so slime glands that line its flanks. And in less than half a second, that little amount will expand by 10,000 times—enough to fill a sizable bucket. Reach in, and every move of your hand will drag the water with it.”

What is truly cool is the structure of the slime, it’s almost like a spider web that quickly unravels when the hagfish is in danger. “Once these cells are expelled from the slime glands, they rupture, releasing the threads within them. Ewoldt’s colleague Gaurav Chaudhury found that despite their length, the threads can fully unspool in a fraction of a second. The pull of flowing water is enough to unwind them. But the process is even quicker if the loose end snags on a surface, like another thread, or a predator’s mouth.”

Watch the hagfish basically drown it’s predators! And how they survive the inital bite? “The animal is effectively wearing a set of extremely loose pajamas,” Fudge says. If a predator attacks, “the body sort of squishes out of the way.”

Why it’s hot?

Sometimes nature’s technology is the coolest of all. I’d love to see how studies on hagfish slime and it’s genetic composition and properties, might turn into new technology.

https://twitter.com/edyong209/status/1088787389441556481

Source: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/hagfish-slime/581002/

 

You can now buy an actual hospital room on Amazon

 

You can buy almost everything on Amazon. And that includes, as of Thursday, a “smart” hospital room in a box.

A New York-based company called EIR Healthcare is now selling units of its hospital room, dubbed MedModular, for $814 a square foot on Amazon.com, which the company claims is more affordable than traditional construction. The design is customizable but all the rooms come with a bathroom and a bed.

These rooms don’t come cheap at $285,000 per unit, but they are targeted to business buyers that are increasingly flocking to Amazon.

“We’re targeting hospitals and health systems,” said Grant Geiger, CEO of EIR Healthcare, the company selling the units. “There’s a trend towards bringing more transparency in the health care space,” he added.

 

But hospital administrators are an obvious place to start, he said, as Amazon is already selling them medical supplies ranging from bed pans to syringes. Previously, large hospital systems would buy everything through group purchasing organizations, or GPOs, which provided discounts but also a lack of transparency around costs.

Now, Amazon is looking to carve out its own slice of that lucrative business with its own growing portfolio of medical supplies.
Why It’s Hot: This is another move for Amazon into the health space. Know primarily for B2C, they’re looking to continue their expansion of B2B offerings, with a focus on medical supplies for hospitals and other HCPs.

When did brands turn to first-person and why is it so effective?

I greatly enjoyed this article from The Ringer about how Entertainment brands have started to voice their social media accounts it the first-person – and unpacked how and why doing so has been so effective to building their brand.

WHY IT’S HOT: 

As Alyssa Bereznak aptly puts, “All the legal scholars tirelessly debating whether corporations are people may be dismayed to learn that, on social media, a powerful billion-dollar tech company can quite effectively wrap itself in the personality, cadence, and sexual desires of an extremely online 20-something.” This is a well-worn trend, but it’s worthwhile to note that what may have previously been carefully crafted as a stringent corporate strategy has now become a more organic, fourth-wall-breaking, fast-reacting one-manned stream. As entertainment brands have adopted the voice of millennial fandom, it will be interesting to see brands in other industries continue to build their personalities (and brands) on social – particularly in instances where the sarcastic or joke-y tone threatens the brand’s credibility. (More on that here: https://www.theringer.com/tech/2019/1/25/18196741/why-mental-health-apps-sound-like-millennials)

SOURCE: The Ringer

Dr. AI

Microsoft has created a new AI with Probabilistic disease progression modeling or (PDPM) to help doctors.

It uses observational medical data to establish (2) states:

 

  • The first determines the number of disease states
  • The second builds a probelistic disease progression model

This in turn can be used  by doctors to better understand patients individual conditions and how they may be likely to develop. It could give information  about a wide range of symptoms – from  shaking hands to mood swings  and  use that to help identify the biomarkers of diseases  including diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

The ultimate goal is for Machine Learning and  AI to help doctors make more accurate diagnoses which could allow for more effective treatment AND could ultimately save lives.

Why It’s Hot:

Applying unique predictive modeling to AI opens up a whole new world of opportunities. In this instance ,it could help save lives when applied to the medical field. Other predictive models across areas such as law enforcement, mental health, and climate change could also help bring positive outcomes.

https://www.digitaltrends.com/cool-tech/ibm-probabilistic-ai-huntingtons-diseases/

Going Retro To Be Green

A new initiative by a small company has compelled more than two dozen of the world’s biggest brands to begin testing reusable packaging.

Loop, launched this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, has amassed a blue-chip roster of companies, all of which are piloting a new system of high-quality packaging that can be returned and refilled again and again. In essence, it changes the ownership model of packaging from consumer to producer.

How It Works

Simply put, Loop brings back the old “milkman model,” where products are delivered to customers at the same time empties are picked up, washed, refilled and restocked for delivery to another customer. The customer gets the product but the company owns the package.

The reality is somewhat more complex.

Loop initially will be an e-commerce play. Consumers can order goods from the Loop website or that of a partner and have them delivered like traditional products ordered online. But there’s a twist: Customers pay a small deposit for a package that has been designed for 100 or more use-cycles. When the container is empty, customers place it in a specially designed tote for pickup or, in some cases, can bring it to a retailer. They can choose whether they want that product replenished; if not, their deposit is returned or credited to their account. The empties are sent to a facility where they are washed and refilled.

Why It’s Hot

Since the dawn of the recycling movement about 30 years ago, companies have tried a number of schemes to enable consumers to use packaging over and over.

But none of these has caught on beyond a tiny niche. Consumers, outside of a precious few hardcore greenies, don’t really want to be inconvenienced, much as they may be seeking to avoid wasteful practices.

Loop’s approach seeks to overcome those obstacles. The key, said Szaky, is trying to mimic the way consumers already buy, use and dispose of packaging.

You are what’s in your fridge

According to Samsung, all our social media profiles are so shallow and edited now, that finding a date based on the contents of your fridge could be the way to find love.

Samsung Electronics Nordics’ “Refridgerdating” service lets users upload a photo of the inside of their fridge, and then swipe left or right to like or dislike others. To connect with other single people, two people need to match, meaning they both have to like each other’s icebox innards.

The campaign promotes the company’s smart kitchen technology, such as its Family Hub for refrigerators.This features a camera inside that shows you what needs to be bought on the way home so that you can add items on your grocery list, and also reminds you of expired dates. There’s also a Meal Planner application that delivers recipes based on your preferences and the food that’s in your fridge.

Samsung’s argument is that “it’s what’s on the inside that counts” when it comes to dating, so the impression given by our fridges “will be more representative for who we really are,” according to Mathias Johansson, Nordic Training and Communications Manager Home appliances, Samsung Electronics Nordic.

If you’re the kind of person who likes a neat, well-organized fridge, or if you love a colorful mess, there could be worse ways to match with a partner. However, we’d argue it’s equally easy to edit your fridge’s contents to make you look better–so if it’s filled with salad, sparkling water and fresh fruit rather than ready meals, out-of-date jars and beer, be suspicious.

Why its hot?
A very unique approach to using a foundational human insight to promote a refrigerator.
I was going to write Tinder for fridge but that seemed very cringeworthy

E-scooters could soon be on the streets of NYC

Lime in New Zealand.

Pick your Lime vehicle.

New York City has been a holdout in the electric scooter craze. A 2004 New York state law banned any motorized scooters.

City Council will soon vote on four bills that include a pilot program for shared e-scooters and legalizing e-scooters that can only go up to 15 mph.

A similar bill would allow for the use of e-bikes with a max speed of 20 mph.

If legalized, Lime is very eager to start operations in New York City like it does in over 100 cities around the world.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has given the OK for cities to figure out for themselves what to do about e-scooters so NYC is planning to vote on it.

Why it’s hot: Legalizing e-scooters could forever change the streets on NYC and add a new layer to the bike-share program.

Source: https://mashable.com/article/e-scooters-nyc-legalize/

Say Hello to Roo!

Roo, Planned Parenthood’s new chatbot, officially launched yesterday with hopes to help answer teenagers’ questions about sexual health that they may not want to ask their parents.

Planned Parenthood worked with digital shop Work & Co on the strategy, branding, design and development of the chatbot. Work & Co actually worked with teenagers from a high school in Brooklyn while developing the app to learn what kind of questions they have, how they search for answers and what they’d want in a chatbot. Because teens prefer to communicate through text message, a chatbot was an ideal platform to provide personalized, destigmatized answers. Plus, a 2014 study found that people tend to feel more comfortable disclosing personal information to a chatbot than a person.

Since many young people are nervous or embarrassed to ask questions about sexual health, they often turn to online resources that might not be entirely reliable. The AI powered bot is meant to give fast answers in a judgment-free, anonymous setting in a manner that’s comfortable for the audience — instead of kids going to unchecked online sources or YouTube for important information. The app is designed for 13-17 year olds and intends to answer more questions as more people use it. Users can find information about anything from puberty, sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy to crushes and masturbation.

Teens can access Roo their mobile phones and if Roo can’t find what the user is looking for, it can connect them to live educators via Planned Parenthood’s chat/text program. Initiatives like this one are meant to help Planned Parenthood give information to hard-to-reach audiences like teenagers who don’t receive sex education or are receiving abstinence-only education.

Why it’s hot: Roo is a great example of well-designed chatbot functionality as well as access to experts in a category often overlooked. One feature in particular that works so well is the fact that you can just browse questions without having to ask anything yourself. Additionally, if you want to know more on a specific topic, sometimes the chatbot will take you to a page on Planned Parenthood’s website, a great way to drive to content on the site.

Source: https://adage.com/article/agency-news/planned-parenthood-launches-roo-a-sexual-health-chatbot-teens/316365/

H&M and Lyft Partner to Help People Recycle

This week, New Yorkers can use Lyft for a free ride to H&M. The partnership is meant to encourage people to participate in H&M’s Garment Collecting program–a global initiative where customers can drop off clothing from any brand to their local H&M, and H&M sends it to the nearest recycling plant for reuse. Every bag of clothing dropped off earns a 15% off discount at H&M .

All customers will have to do is enter the code HMRECYCLES to claim their free Lyft ride, up to $10.

The press release announcing the partnership highlights how both companies have committed to help the environment:

  • Since the Garment Collecting program started in 2013, H&M has collected 163 pounds of textiles globally
  • In 2018, Lyft committed to offsetting their carbon emissions, ensuring every Lyft ride in NYC is carbon-neutral

Why It’s Hot

Both companies are getting at their target customers’ affinity for eco-conscious brands, while helping prevent clothing from ending up in landfills.

Source: https://www.retaildive.com/news/hm-lyft-give-rides-to-customers-recycling-old-clothes/546629/

MOVE OVER GEN Z, GENERATION ALPHA IS THE ONE TO WATCH

Apparently you don’t need to have a wallet or a job to become a key target for marketers. Children 10 years old and younger seem to wear the pants in the family when making technology decisions on what TV to buy, tablet and phone purchases. Marketers need to understand how the newly coined generation Alpha make decisions and what makes them tick.

Here are a some examples of brand’s getting their attention:

Making a tedious task – enjoyable. 

Procter & Gamble’s Crest Kids, for example, recently unveiled an Alexa skill for Amazon’s smart speaker designed to help children brush their pearly whites. The Tooth Fairy-approved skill tells jokes, offers fun facts and sings songs for the dentist-recommended brush time of two minutes, according to the Amazon page for Chompers, which worked with Gimlet Media and Oral B on the project.

Partner with Alpha’s favorite YouTube and Instagram influencers.

The kingpin is Ryan, a 7-year-old boy from Texas who has been doing online toy reviews since he was a 4-year-old. His YouTube channel, Ryan ToysReview, now approaches 18 million subscribers. Ryan, whose last name is undisclosed to protect his privacy, first began posting reviews, but has since expanded into science experiments and games. Neither Ryan nor his parents returned a request for comment.

“The new biggest celebrity to a kid is not Michael Jordan anymore, it’s Ryan ToysReview, [their] favorite YouTuber,” says Julia Moonves, VP of sales and business development at Pocket.watch, a Los Angeles-based startup that partners with young influencers on content and product development.

Why it’s hot? 

The customer base has gotten a lot more complex with layers of influencers. Marketers have to work smarter to target the right decision makers and key influencers to drive conversion.

Wearable memes

At this year’s Paris Fashion Week, Viktor & Rolf put out a couture collection featuring voluminous tulle ballgowns plastered with memes.

And there’s a dress for every mood.

When a simple “no” isn’t enough:

FASHION-FRANCE-VIKTOR & ROLF

When you need a Frida Kahlo quote to inspire you:

FASHION-FRANCE-VIKTOR & ROLF

When it’s Day 33 of the government shutdown and negotiations have stalled:

FASHION-FRANCE-VIKTOR & ROLF

When you show up late to a party you wish you canceled earlier:

Viktor & Rolf : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019

When someone just isn’t getting the hint:

Viktor & Rolf : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019

When your friend says “It’s just a small get together, dress casual”:

Viktor & Rolf : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019

When it’s been a week and he still hasn’t texted back:

Viktor & Rolf : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2019

Why it’s hot: Using social media to resonate with people on social media.

Source

tour the dali museum, with your host…DALI!

When Salvador Dali once said, “If someday I may die…I hope the people…will say, ‘Dali has died, but not entirely”, I’m not sure he knew how right he was. Using AI, his namesake museum in St. Petersburg, Florida has now “resurrected” Dali to welcome visitors, and provide commentary on his works as you move throughout the institution.

According to the museum, they did it by “pulling content from millions of frames of interviews with the artist and overlaying it onto an actor’s face–a digital mask, of sorts, that allowed the actor to appear as Dali whatever expression he made.” It also “cast another actor from Barcelona to ensure that the voice matched the countenance.”

Why it’s hot:

There’s no better experience if you want to learn about an individual and his/her art than to hear about it directly from that person. Especially when they’re as dynamic and memorable as Salvador Dali. Unfortunately, most individuals famous enough to have their own museum likely aren’t on hand to do that in person. Having a virtual Dali guide you through his works seems a perfect way to experience his brilliance as both an artist, and a human being.

[Source]

Netflix Adds New Instagram Stories Sharing Function

A new sharing feature integrating Instagram and Netflix is letting users share what they’re watching on the streaming service as a Story. Once you share to Instagram, users can add all the normal Story functions like GIFs and polls on top of the Netflix creative.

Each story will live for the normal 24 hours, but Netflix adds a “watch on Netflix” button to facilitate traffic to the service. Integration with Stories is going to be huge for brands moving forward as the format continues to gain in popularity.

Why its hot

Stories are huge and being able to share to Stories is going to be important for any brand looking for engagement with the format.

Is it the End of Embarrassing Birds and Bees Conversations?

Last year Planned Parenthood started testing a chatbot that aims to answers teenagers plethora of questions around sex. Knowing kids probably don’t want to ask their parents about the more intimate aspects of their love lives, the organization has partnered with a digital agency to strategize, design and brand the chatbot that will be launching on Thursday.

Working with teenagers form Bushwick, Brooklyn’s Math, Engineering and Sience academy on the project. The charter school students have helped design the gender-neutral, friendly chatbot aimed at 13 to 17 year-olds.

Since so many teenagers get health information online, the artificial intelligence-powered bot is meant to give fast answers in a judgment-free, anonymous setting in a manner that’s comfortable for the audience — instead of kids going to unchecked online sources or YouTube for important information.

Source: https://adage.com/article/agency-news/planned-parenthood-launches-roo-a-sexual-health-chatbot-teens/316365/ 

Users can find all sorts of information, from puberty to sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, and masturbation. If the right information can’t be found, Roo will direct users to other sources like live educators. The experience lives on Roo.PlannedParenthood.org and is best experienced on mobile devices.

Why it’s Hot:

User first thinking really shows here. Teenagers are looking everything up online but when it comes to sex talk, they are embarrassed to have anyone find their search history. This solves for that, it’s completely anonymous! Also, it solves for them finding accurate and trustworthy information.

Young designers make a living building tiny houses on The Sims

A young Australian graphic design student got into Sims while studying abroad and getting a stomach bug. Today, “Deligracy“, has 810,000 subscribers and even sells merchandise, like sweatshirts, mugs, and phone cases.Deligracy’s  channel has become so popular that she quit her job as a junior graphic designer because she was making more money from YouTube. Some of her most popular videos, which get tens of thousands of views, aren’t of the most elaborate houses Deligracy can dream up: Instead, her audience is obsessed with tiny homes.

For James Turner, another Australian who runs a popular channel called The Sim Supply, with 1.1 million subscribers, building tiny homes is an ideal challenge. “I love making them, it’s like trying to put a puzzle together, I know what I want it to look like, and what tiny space it has to fit within, but it’s a matter of getting the game to actually work the way I want to and have everything be functional for game play.” One of Turner’s early tiny house videos, in which he designs a fully functional Sims house with kitchen, bathroom, bed, and dresser that can fit within a four-by-four square (a square is the standard building unit in the game), has 4.7 million views. Players can also download the house to play with themselves.

Why it’s hot: Knowing that there is a large millennial audience highly engaged with home design, and knowing that millennial home ownership is down — can this be leveraged to spike millennial home ownership?

Source: FastCo

What’s Better Than One Fyre Festival Documentary?…Two!

Festivals are all the rage with this generation: millennials. From Cochella to Burning Man to Lollapalooza, it’s a time to get away from all their troubles, which sure does help a lot. When new festivals pop up, asking this demographic, “Wouldn’t you like to get away?,” thousands of young adults flock to the desert or into the middle of a city to hang among their peers and dance the night away. However, not all of these festivals go smoothly.

In 2017, entrepreneur Billy McFarland attempted to put on a fantastical music festival in the Bahamas called the Fyre Festival. This elitist and very expensive event ended up being a total disaster. Now, both Netflix and Hulu have competing documentaries about this moment in history, but which one should you watch?

Both of these movies pretty much come to the same conclusion, that event coordinator Billy McFarland is a functioning sociopath, compulsive liar, and a modern-day snake oil salesman. However, how both these films come to that conclusion is very different.

Netflix’s Fyre and Hulu’s Fyre Fraud recount the events leading up to the Fyre Festival and how it all came together, which was way too quickly and without any experienced leader running it all. From having to switch the island where it was going to be held, to FEMA tents being used instead of villas, to the bands dropping out the last minute, it is the story of someone who desperately wants to be something he is ultimately not, a tech billionaire.

Fyre, Netflix’s documentary about the event, has a bit more of a mature take on the events and presents them as seriously as possible. This is one of director Chris Smith’s best documentaries, which is saying quite a lot as he also directed 2017’s Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond for Netflix and 1999’s cult classic American Movie. The story is delivered as more of a mystery, asking the audience, “What went wrong?” It’s apparent, from the get-go, that the problem was lack of planning and trying to rush out a product–which rests squarely on the shoulders of Billy McFarland.

The subjects being interviewed for the piece are those who worked on the festival, from the ones who set up the stages and “sleeping” areas to those involved in the planning of the event. As the movie progresses, it becomes clear that it’s nothing short of a “clusterf***,” with McFarland’s response to most problems being something along the lines of, “think positive and it will all work out.” It doesn’t.

Fyre feels like a smashing success as it is a wonderfully engrossing movie from start to finish. It is essentially a rollercoaster ride of a story, for those who are only semi-familiar with what happened at the event.

Over at Hulu, Fyre Fraud almost has a comedic bent to the entire piece, especially with the musical cues transitioning between each scene, which is hard to take in when the thesis for the film is that Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland was knowingly defrauding everyone around him. Fyre Fraud lets the audience know that everything about this festival was a part of the malicious intent that McFarland had. It’s clearly a leap away from what Netflix’s Fyre.

It feels as though Fyre Fraud is geared much more to a younger audience, yet at the same time, a chunk of an early portion of the movie focuses heavily on what “celebrity influencers” and “social media” are, so choices like that are a bit bizarre. Additionally, the movie jumps around quite a bit in the Fyre Festival timeline.

Fyre Fraud is much more about a Cliffsnotes version behind-the-scenes before and after the event–including from people that attended the event–but the one thing Hulu’s documentary has over Netflix’s is interviews with Billy McFarland. However, it’s not as in-depth as you may hope for. There are even portions left in the movie where McFarland states he refuses to answer questions or simply says, “I don’t know.” However, the McFarland interviews alone make it worth your while to watch Fyre Fraud. Additionally, the Hulu documentary makes it a point mention that Jerry Media produced the Netflix documentary, and Jerry Media who were behind the social media marketing for Fyre Fest, and needless to say, Fyre Fraud is not kind to Jerry Media, while Netflix’s documentary tends to paint them in a much better light.

Why It’s Hot:

Although Fyre Festival was an epic failure and Billy McFarland refuses to admit to any wrongdoing his marketing campaign was genius. McFarland was able to utilize the FOMO culture and influencer marketing on social media perfectly. He knew his target audience, affluent millennials, would jump at the opportunity to go to an exclusive “once in a lifetime” event. Fyre Festival highlighted the stereotypes older generations love to attribute to millennials and in the end the desire impress strangers online enabled McFarland to cheat partygoers out of millions of dollars.

Like Music To Your Thumbs – Musical.ly, TikTok, Ditty

Heard about the trend “Hit or Miss”? That’s from TikTok. There are similar platforms. “Depending on who you ask, it’s either an entertaining gathering place for younger and older generations or, well … incredibly cringey… For every spontaneous clip filmed by two college kids, there’s a jarringly artificial video of someone dressed superficially and seeking nothing but attention.”

Here’s safe ditty from an 11-year-old.

Why does this matter? Generation Z is all over it. They seem to inherently know how to capture a digital slice of life, edit it, add filters, special effects, a soundtrack, craft a promotion plan complete with catchy hook and hashtag. Brands attempting to reach them need to learn to think like them. One big setback is how brands think long-term. Their audience is thinking about right now. That has its pitfalls. Reference any number of fallen YouTube influencers. The pay off, if done well, can be huge. Tread carefully.

Cute Amazon robots set to take over U.S. streets

Amazon announced on Wednesday (1/23) that it will begin a pilot program near its HQ in Washington state to use its own delivery robots called Amazon Scout for last mile deliveries. The pilot in Snohomish County, WA, will use 6 Scouts and only on weekdays during daylight hours. They will be accompanied by Amazon employees to make sure all goes well.

The familiar-looking 6-wheeler looks similar to other delivery robots though it was developed in-house by Amazon.

Story on TechCrunch

Why it’s Hot

Delivery ‘bots are nothing new (see: Kroger, Eat24, DoorDash, Dominos), but it has a much bigger implication when Amazon is involved. It seems that the Amazon drones that the company promised a few years ago have been pushed aside for now.

The State of D2C Brands

DNVBs

A smattering of Direct to Consumer brands

The growth of direct-to-consumer brands have been one of the major disrupting trends for clients over the past few years (across many categories, but particularly CPG). Think Allbirds, Casper etc (they’re also known as Digitally Native Vertical Brands (DNVBs), Instabrands, Digital Private Label etc…)

A conference report from last week shows some of the struggles these phenoms may now be facing. Essentially the model of plastering the L Train in posters, buying a load of Instagram ads, and sticking a subscription service for toothpaste/underwear/vitamins/whatever on the back, really may not be sustainable. As the panelist from General Catalyst says:

“At the end of the day, as glorious as this sounds, underlying economics often come down to a simple equation, which is: ‘What is the lifetime value and what does it cost to acquire?'” he said. “And if there is a story and there is a community and there is a movement, that has a significant impact on the lifetime value and the customer acquisition cost. And if there isn’t, it’s much more likely that it’s like a one hit.”

Why it’s hot…

This is pretty important because a huge number of clients have been grappling with these disruptors (think GSK struggling with Quip toothpaste subscriptions) and figuring out how to emulate them. If the model is starting to creak it may be time to reassess what’s working and what isn’t from the approaches D2C brands adopted.

#Mute: Soon Spotify Will Let Users Block Problematic Artists

On January 3, an explosive documentary called “Surviving R. Kelly” was released on Lifetime. The six-part series resurfaced decades of abuse allegations against the popular R&B singer and within a weekend, the social media campaign #MuteRKelly was a top trending topic.

But as tweets and Op-Eds put pressure on R. Kelly’s music label to drop him and for police to investigate him, streams of the artist increased 116% after the doc aired.

Streaming services have been caught in the crossfire when problematic artists are allowed to still benefit financially from their art.  Spotify tried and failed to remove R. Kelly from the streaming platform back in 2018 when a Buzzfeed article leveled serious allegations against the singer.  The backlash was swift and Spotify was forced to re-instate Kelly’s catalogue when powerful artists like Kendrick Lamar rallied around the singer.

In the wake of a crop of new allegations and new investigations, what is the responsibility of a music streaming service when an artist becomes problematic?

Spotify’s solution this time, gives the ultimate veto power to its users.

Spotify is about to launch a feature within the app that will allow users to mute artists they don’t wan to hear on the platform.  The feature is currently being tested in the latest iOS version of the app.  The feature will allow a user to block an entire artist from playing.  That means content from a blocked artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list or even a radio station.  Currently the block feature only works for content by an individual artist, but doesn’t apply to tracks that are collaborations that might feature that artist.

Read More: The Verge

Why Its Hot: In the social media age, a trending hashtag is all it takes to put pressure on brands and businesses.  And increasingly, brands are being asked to use their power to right wrongs, be that removing an ad from a controversial news program as in the case of Fox News host Tucker Carlson, or to remove controversial artists from their platforms.  This solution, if it takes off, may be a way for streaming services to side step having to take a public stand, but in the end give its users the final say over who they want to block…and #Mute.

Image result for lil yachty remote gif

Let’s Make This the Most Liked Hot Sauce Post of All Time

Why it’s Hot? 

Well it’s not quite hard boiled it is still hot. Kylie Jenner lost the world record for having the most-liked photo on Instagram to the photo of this egg, which was first posted online to the account world_record_egg by the “Egg Gang” on Jan. 4.

This is an incredible social feat if you think about it. From a social behavior POV it shows us either one of two things:

  1. There are two types of people on the Internets — those who follow Kylie Jenner and those who will like an egg to dethrone Kylie Jenner
  2. Those on the internets know the dichotomy of our own behavior and are possibly more self aware as humans than in any other time. This means our ability to hold cognitive dissonance is more powerful than ever.

You decide.

Eco Six-Pack Rings

Marine plastic, who’s not thinking of it? From the notorious Pacific plastic mass to metal straw adoption, the topic is on our mind and seemingly one of the easiest to solve with some human behavior modification. What if that’s not feasible though — as is the case with the plastic rings that hold canned six-packs together? Those buggers not only contribute to marine plastic pollution, but also inflict some quite unnecessary damage to the species we share a planet with.

Well, enter Florida craft microbrewery, Saltwater Brewery, and their manufacturing partner, E6PR, who designed a eco friendly six-pack ring.

The cool part of the ring is not only is it biodegradable, but it’s also edible for wildlife.

While Saltwater Brewery seems to be the only brewer using these six-pack rings, E6PR is in talks with other brewers to adopt the innovation.

Why It’s Hot

We’re starting to see more innovations that are designed to be used, rather than to wow. This innovation falls into that role, but takes it a step further and does no harm.

L’Oreal Skincare Device Analyzes Wearer’s Sweat To Recommend Products

My Skin Track is a soft wearable that can analyze a person’s epidural pH via perspiration and suggest subsidiary La Roche-Posay’s products to prevent further skin irritation.

Made in collaboration with Epicore Biosystems, the My Skin Track pH is a patch that analyzes a person’s sweat to measure their pH. Using microfluidic technology, the wearable can deliver an accurate reading in 15 minutes, and through the integrated app, can read the results through a camera sensor. From there, the app will recommend a La Roche-Posay (L’Oréal’s skincare brand) product to help correct any imbalance that could lead to skin responses like dryness, eczema and atopic dermatitis.

The wearable will be available at select La Roche-Posay dermatologists in the United States as it continues to test and research the project further before releasing a consumer version.

Why it’s hot: This is a kickass way to utilize a wearable that directly correlates with solving a skincare problem (and selling products).

Source: PSFK

 

Cardi B Goes Viral Against The #TrumpShutdown (Bad Language Warning)

On Wednesday night, Cardi B released a video on her Instagram handle, going off on the Trump administrations choice to keep the government shut down and for federal employees to work without pay.

<<NSFW language warning goes here>>

United States Senator from Hawaii Brian Schatz and Chris Murphy, Senator from Connecticut, debated retweeting her video. With an eager reply from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (or one of his staff members…)

Why Its Hot?

From AOC cooking mac and cheese and shooting IG stories of her freshman year in congress, to Liz Warren cracking beers on Instagram Live, pols are looking for ways to connect and be more human using social media. More progressive ideas are becoming popular because the language is more accessible.

 

live someone else’s story with unrd…

In a world that’s exploded with media channels, we have many ways to tell or experience a story in 2019. Even many immersive ways. But a new app called unrd has added a fresh one to the mix.

The app allows you to choose from a number of characters, and instead of just reading a story, or watching a video or film, your phone essentially becomes that characters phone, and you experience their story as if it was happening to you.

Per its website, unrd bills itself as “real-time fiction”, and claims it allows you to “live someone else’s life and receive messages, videos, photos and audio messages – and even watch them LIVE on video.”

Why it’s hot:

In a way, we’re all already “experiencing” each others lives through social media and other messages on our phones. But while our friends lives might or might not be interesting, it’s nothing like “becoming” one of them in a crazy situation, such as “You have the phone of a missing girl. Amy Morris disappears after a night out with friends.Over 7 days receive texts, photos and video messages and discover the truth behind her disappearance.” It’s interesting how unrd has not only built a new storytelling platform, but also one that seemingly builds off our proclivity for following other peoples “stories” on our phones.

 

Giant Robots in Giant Supermarkets

The supermarket chain Giant Food Stores is starting to roll out an 6’3” autonomous robot named Marty whose mission is to keep stores safe. Marty is the result of a partnership between parent company Ahold Delhaize, the Dutch food retailer, and autonomous robot company Badger Technologies. This marks the largest front-of-store deployment of robots in a retail environment.

Marty has a laser-based detection system to guide him through the store. His sole purpose is to identify in-store hazards like spills and trip hazards, so employees can take action faster. While rolling down the aisles, he can also identify out-of-stock items and do price checks. Potential applications for Marty in the future include identifying food that is nearing its expiration date, continuously monitor inventory to forecast supply chain issues and reduce waste, and giving executive teams more in-store visibility to improve operations.

A message on the back of the robot reads, “This store is monitored by Marty for your safety. Marty is an autonomous robot that uses image capturing technology to report spills, debris and other potential hazards to store employees to improve your shopping experience.”

Giant says customers been more excited than freaked out by Marty. Many are even taking selfies with him as he is beginning to be identified as a brand ambassador for the supermarket. Giant has stated the Marty improves in-store efficiencies and free employees to better serve their customers. Giant plans to bring him to all 172 stores across Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia this year.

Why it’s hot: Although I don’t think Marty would fit in so well in a crowded New York City Trader Joe’s, it will be interesting to see how this technology continues to improve in-store experiences and automate worker tasks. As cashiers are continuously replaced with self-checkout options, Marty will fuel even more automation and replacement of jobs in the retail space.

Source: https://www.adweek.com/digital/giant-grocery-stores-is-deploying-googly-eyed-robots-to-improve-the-customer-experience/?utm_content=position_2&utm_source=sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=AWK_TodayTech&utm_campaign=Digital_Newsletter_2019011607&s_id=59edf19472fbf2544c8b5862

 

Want to see a water fall? Go to Singapore Changi Airport.

Set to open this year, Jewel Changi Airport re-imagines the center of an airport as a major public realm attraction. It will offer a range of facilities for land-side airport operations, indoor gardens and leisure attractions, retail offerings and hotel facilities, all under one roof. A distinctive dome-shaped façade made of glass and steel adds to Changi Airport’s appeal as one of the world’s leading air hubs.

It represents an innovation in the world of lifestyle/retail design, with a one-of-a-kind relationship between garden and marketplace. In addition, nowhere in the world has a building been constructed that integrates the public realm with an airport facility so closely. The building extends Changi Airport’s principal function as a transit hub, to a public gathering space for Singaporeans and international travelers, establishing a new model for airports as discrete destinations for shopping, entertainment, and social activity.

Why it’s hot: Travel is no longer just about the destination, it’s also about the in-betweens.

Source

Finland’s AI Ambitions

Finland has set an ambitious goal to train 1% of its population (55,000 people) in the basics of AI. Their hope is that widespread technological expertise can help boost their economy and help them stay competitive in international markets, especially in the wake of Nokia’s decline.

In order to achieve this, they created a free online course called the Elements of AI. The course is made up of six parts, covering everything from machine learning to neural networks, and has a focus on practical, problem-solving applications.

The initiative has support of both the government and local businesses, with 250 companies vowing to train part or all of their workforce. So far, more than 10,500 people have graduated from the course.

Why It’s Hot

At a time when so many are afraid of how new technology will impact the current career landscape and are struggling to keep up with the pace of change, Finland’s idea to promote a free educational resource to equip its workforce is a smart move.

Source: https://www.technologyreview.com/the-download/612762/a-countrys-ambitious-plan-to-teach-anyone-the-basics-of-ai/ 

Neutrogena rescuing 3D printing

Neutrogena is launching a 3D-printed sheet mask that is designed to perfectly fit a user’s facial shape and cater to her particular skincare needs.

Neutrogena MaskiD is made up of six different colour-coded zones: the forehead, eye orbital, nose, cheeks, chin and nasolabial folds. The mask works with the Neutrogena Skin360 app to measure the user’s skin and then recommend a different blend of ingredients for each area of their face, in order to hydrate and brighten the skin, as well as combat issues like redness, uneven tone and wrinkles.

To create their personalised mask, the user first needs to take a selfie and create a 3D image of their face using Neutrogena’s app. The app is compatible with any smartphone with a 3D camera or one fitted with Neutrogena’s Skinscanner camera attachment. Next, the 3D-image is analysed to ascertain the right combination of ingredients for each area of the face. The custom-fit hydrogel mask is then 3D-printed and shipped to the client.

Why its hot?
Beyond all the usual stuff like personalized skincare, finally there is a 3D printing idea that is marginally useful for consumers in everyday use