Mountain Dew Takes Geography 101

In June, Mountain Dew launched their “Dewnited States” campaign art put Michigan’s Upper Peninsula as part of Wisconsin and got called out by the Upper Peninsula’s Twitter (run by Bugsy Sailor who  owns Upper pininsula Supply Co.).

MD decided to actually take him up on the dare and not only do a custom UP bottle, but also an activation at his store and at the UP State Fair where attendees could dunk MD employees into a dunk tank and get free MD and swag.

Why its hot:

A great example of a brand taking a mistake in a campaign and creating a unique customer experience and activation and shifted the conversation from a L to a W.

Eco-Friendly Homes (For Real)

Eco-friendly, element-resistant, and cost-effective homes are coming soon (maybe). A startup called Geoship has conceptualized homes that are element resistant, energy efficient, non-toxic, and basically zero-waste producing homes made out of bioceramic materials.

But the concept goes beyond the physical home. Affordability is a major concern for the company, so they’re proposing community land trusts where groups of people will be able to design their own communities on one plot of land rather than the traditional one home land ownership model.

Part of the concept is creating a cooperative ownership model where customers will end up owning 30% to 70% of the company. But as great as this sounds, the company is still fundraising for the first production plant, estimating at least 2 years before anything is actually made.

At the bottom of their website, they have explanations of what they mean by “efficient” “non-toxic,” etc.

Example: “By “Efficient” we mean bioceramic geodesic homes will save you money. Turnkey price estimates (including land, delivery, installation, and finishing touches) for Geoship homes range from $55,000 for a tiny home, to $250,000 for a large home. In many cases this will be at least a 50% reduction in mortgage and utility bills compared to a conventional home. We are confident that our technology enables the leap onto a new affordability curve, but pricing will not be set until production begins. Geoship villages will optionally include solar panels, battery packs, and passive solar heating/cooling to reduce energy bills.”

Why it’s hot:

The idea in and of itself is hot because 1. it sounds almost too good to be true 2. it kind of gives off Fyre Fest energy and 3. nothing has actually been built, but I thought a particularly interesting part of this is was it’s newest partner, Zappos. Historically, retail companies haven’t been leading eco-tech conversations, but Zappos is actually the first brand to hop on board with their initiative of creating a “village” of these domes to house some of the homeless population in Las Vegas. It will be interesting to not only see if this works, but also if they will start flooding the housing market.

You can read more on the Geoship website and this Fast Co. article.

Smarter Smart Phones

UK design agency morrama came up with three concepts to give users more control over the way their smartphones work through physical design. This concept was a built as a solution to the idea that smartphones give people too much access to the internet, apps, etc. and the impact on health.

“We’ve taken a different approach and set out to change a persons interaction with their smartphone through subtle changes to it’s physical design, attempting to improve their behavior and start using their phone as a tool for better things.”

  1. Screens on both sides of the phone to prevent distraction of phone lighting up
  2. Screen flipping for less app usage
  3. On the back, there is a tilt so the user has to physically interact with the devise to see notifications

Why its hot

A new take on combating smartphone overuse. There are apps and features on smartphones that help with regulating the users behaviors (essentially telling the user that they are or have a “problem”) but this is an interesting approach as the physical phone is being changed and the user’s behavioral patterns shift as a result.


Netflix’s Kind Of But Not Really Ads

Even though Netflix doesn’t do ads on the platform, they seem to be testing out a new form of “ads” by integrating brands into their shows, but not as a copromotional deal, purely as part of the “storyline”. Stranger Things Season 3 integrated brands like Burger King and Coca-Cola supposedly without any prior copromotional deal and obviously ended up advertising on their own. Netflix came out with a statement (after being called out for “branded content”) that they didn’t receive any payment or placement from third parties and “[the products are] all part of the Duffer Brothers’ storytelling, which references 1980s consumer and popular culture,” so essentially they are saying they did it all on their own, no conversations about promo with Coke or BK.

A research firm (Concave Brand Tracking) estimated that there was $15 million worth of product placement in the new season. It is definitively a risk as the brands don’t have to advertise the show as a normal copromotional deal would require, but these product tie-ins could be the segue for Netflix to get into a new wave of branded content. (Read more here)

Why It’s Hot:

It’s interesting that Netflix is so adamant about not wanting to advertise and making sure that image stays in tact aka not being a “selling out” for branded content (even though there are so many rumors or predictions about ads coming to Netflix).

They are definitely leveraging their own “cultural clout” other companies’ desire to reach the “Gen Z” or “Millennial” audience (Coke with their podcast on leadership + sustainability initiatives and BK with plant-based burgers + push in the digital space) to take full advantage of the advertising and partnership opportunities without there being an official transaction. It will be interesting to see if more shows adopt this form of partnership with brands as essentially get free ad campaigns and they are a subscription based business.