A “Sick” New App

A new app called HEALTHYDAY, developed by Johnson & Johnson, uses sickness-searching algorithms to warn you when sickness in lurking in your neighborhood. The app’s algorithm syncs self-reported data form local doctor’s offices, Google searches, social media mentions on Twitter & Facebook and user data from people using the app, which it funnels down into easily digestible trends, blurbs and infographics. The goal of the app is to answer the question “What’s going around?”. Learn more about the app here.



Why It’s Hot:
This app serves as a best-in-class example of using “big data” to create something educates & addresses a need, while subtly pushing core products in the Johnson & Johnson family of brands.

Smart Credit Cards are Coming

Four start-ups are betting the world isn’t ready for mobile payments and have introduced “smart cards” – an all-in-one payment solution. Although you probably heard of Coin, which was introduced back in 2013, three comparable solutions have entered the space — Swyp, Stratos & Plast — all of which are taking pre-orders. Click here to learn how these smart cards work.  Capture

Why It’s Hot: 
Smart cards offer an interim solution for those not quite ready to make the switch to a mobile payment solution (a la Apple Pay and Google Wallet) – which, many merchants aren’t even yet equipped to accept. Of course, not all credit card terminals can read the strip used on the ‘smart card’ so it won’t be a smooth transition but it provides a glimpse into the future of our methods of payment. It begs the question – will cash transactions become extinct?


Weibo has signed a potentially huge deal with one of Europe’s hottest tech startups

Socialbakers, a Prague-based social media marketing management company, is working on developing a Facebook Insights product with Sina Weibo, the gigantic Chinese microblog platform. The product is slated to launch later this year. Read more.

Why It’s Hot:
The more sophisticated analytics that a social platform can provide, the more likely a brand can demonstrate and prove success to upper management. Additionally, advanced metrics allows brands to determine what’s working and what’s not, while allowing for optimizations to be made to improve performance (the true beauty of social). And ultimately with the ability to prove success, advertisers will be more willing to give their money to those platforms. With so many social platform options out there, analytics will be a key differentiator.



Facebook Adds Call Now Button for Local Awareness Ads

Facebook has added a Call Now button to its local awareness ads. The new call-to-action button joins the Get Directions button, which was part of the launch of  their “local awareness ads” offering last October. The Call Now button allows customers & prospects to call you right from your ad in the News Feed.


Why It’s Hot: 
Facebook’s local awareness ads allow small business owners to target users by neighborhood, demonstrating that Facebook is getting serious about their partnerships with mom & pop shops. This seemingly simple addition to an ad unit has the potential to drive immediate and measurable results.

Snapchat Debuts Video Ads for 2 Cents a View

Snapchat wants companies to know its not just for millennials: Advertisers can find a home there as well. In April, Snapchat stopped selling Brand Stories, the first type of ad it released last fall, according to multiple people familiar with the move. Yesterday, the platform announced that it would be unveiling 10-second ads that cost 2 cents per view. The new ad offering creates a new way for Snapchat Discover publishers to generate revenue. Snapchat’s Nick Bell said the photo-sharing app has spent the last few months experimenting with how to price ads on Discover.

Why It’s Hot: 
Perfecting the advertising revenue model is crucial for emerging social platforms to maintain long-term viability. Snapchat has been exploring various pricing structures and working closely with brand partners to perfect the offering for months, which demonstrates the nimbleness of these platforms and the power that advertisers have in forming these mutually beneficial partnerships.

Lilly Pulitzer’s Collection at Target Sells Out in Minutes

On Sunday, the much anticipated release of the Target’s newest collaboration with Lilly Pulitzer hit store shelves and sold out within minutes. Eager shoppers stood in line hours before stores opened (most of which, left the store empty-handed) and even Target’s website was overwhelmed by the sudden rush. Over 26,000 pieces from the apparel have appeared on eBay for resale (priced at 8x the retail price), which has enraged Lilly Pulitzer nation so much so that they’ve started a boycott. You can follow boycott activity by monitoring #LillyforeBay.

Why It’s Hot:
This frenzy resulted in a burst of social media activity, which ultimately helped increase brand awareness for Lilly. They reported a 95% spike on Facebook in the first few days! It is also interesting to see the vulnerabilities that Target faced in the wake of the release, proving that they have a lot of work to do to prepare for future collaborations.

Motion-powered ‘smart’ fabric

A new type of fabric is designed to collect and store static electricity in order to give your personal devices a power boost. Created by a team led by materials scientist Sang-Woo Kim at Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, the material consists of a two layers of fabric, one of silver-coated fibres, the other containing zinx oxide nanorods coated with polydimethylsiloxane. The layers rub together when they move, which can be triggered by natural, day-to-day motions.

Why It’s Hot: 
Electricity is crack. You know the feeling – when you’re cell phone has just 5% of battery life and the thought of not having your phone sends you into a spiral of emotions. Look around. You see people plugged in at the airport, on the train, in restaurants, at work, etc. Following the developments in wearables, this caught my eye – although not the most fashionable – it’s interesting to see exploration into using our own energy as an independent power source.

Uber Sets Up Curbside Breathalyzer

Drunk driving accidents triple after midnight in Canada. To make the streets Uber safe, they set up a roadside kiosk in Toronto that functions as a breathalyzer. Those over the legal limit received a free Uber ride home. The stunt has been so successful that the company has mentioned that more machines may begin appearing in the drinking districts of other cities where Uber operates, although such a service would unlikely remain free for too long.

Why It’s Hot: 
Consumers are intrigued by companies who use technology creatively and Uber is best-in-class for consistently delivering novel ideas that grab headlines.


Amazon Dash Button.

You’re entire house is now a shopping cart. Amazon is rolling out a new hardware called the Dash button. It’s a physical button that you can stick wherever and press when you want to order more of something.

Need diapers? Hit the diaper button. Need more toilet paper? Just hit the toilet paper button. Dash button with 18 different partners and each button is tied to a specific brand or a specific product of a brand. The Dash button is available exclusively for Amazon Prime Members.

Why It’s Hot: 
Amazon is bringing “one click shopping” to real life. And although it has only been launched with 18 partners, Amazon has opened the platform to developers, makers and manufacturers allowing others to integrate the same service. Although, at the time of drafting this Hot Sauce, one does wonder if it’s an epic April Fool’s Day prank in the making ….

This is not a drill. [Social Media Crisis Simulation]

Polpeo, a subsidiary of the social media management firm eModeration, specializes in a novel new corporate exercise: the simulated brand crisis. Police officers train for various crises all the time; so do airline pilots. But most corporations don’t — even as the rise of social networks allows bad news about them to spread globally at record speed.

More than a quarter of brand-related failures typically go international within an hour on social media, according to Polpeo, and a year after the crisis passes, more than half of companies haven’t recovered their share price. You can read all about the author’s simulation experience at SXSW here.

Why It’s Hot:
In a time when a small mistake by a community manager or the antics of a company executive can go viral in a matter of seconds, many companies unfortunately discover that they aren’t prepared when a social media crisis hits. Polpeo’s offering is brilliant and the details of the simulation in the article shed the light on the reality of being human and how someone’s actions outside of the office can impact the entire company.

Mattel’s New Barbie is Listening to Your Kids

Mattel’s new “Hello Barbie” hits store shelves later this year and has more tricks up her sleeve than just saying hello. With the press of a button, Barbie’s embedded microphone turns on and records the voice of the child playing with her. The recordings are then uploaded to a cloud server, where voice detection technology helps the doll make sense of the data. The result? An inquisitive Barbie who remembers your dog’s name and brings up your favorite hobbies in your next chitchat.

Why It’s Hot: 
The overall concept is interesting — a toy that listens and learns your child’s preferences and adapts accordingly … a true demonstration of personalization. The obvious downside is that nobody really knows what is being done with all that data (collected from kids!) and puts a level of accountability on the company. For example, children confide in their toys – so what if a child admits that they get hit by a parent? Should Mattel be on the hook to report it?

People Ignore a Giant Lump Growing on a Street (Cancer PSA Stunt)

It’s a PSA for Cancer Research U.K., which wanted to communicate that British people are missing the first signs of cancer. Well, no wonder they ignore small lumps in their bodies when they just walk right past weird giant lumps growing in the real world.

Why It’s Hot:
This stunt taps into the notion that many of us go about our days, missing what’s right in ‘front’ of us and uses consumer behavior to underscore an important message.

Women’s Aid highlights domestic abuse with ‘world first’ interactive billboard

To coincide with International Women’s Day this Sunday, London agency WCRS teamed up with Women’s Aid and Ocean Outdoor to create some remarkable digital billboards about domestic violence. They use facial recognition to recognize when people are paying attention to the image of a bruised woman. As more people look at the ad, her bruises and cuts heal faster, communicating the benefit of not turning a blind eye to the problem. The ad contained a CTA allowing people to donate from their phone. Read more.



Why It’s Hot:
This execution is a perfect blend of technology and creativity. Most brands use DOOH to only communicate messaging, but this demonstrates how even traditional types of media can be used to create an emotional connection and drive immediate action enabled by mobile.

Canada’s Largest Bitcoin Exchange is Shutting Down After Suspected Hack

Canadian Bitcoin exchange Cavirtex has announced that it may have suffered a security breach and is shutting down its operations soon [https://www.cavirtex.com/news]. While the company says it hasn’t lost any of its reserves, it feels “the damage to [its] reputation caused by the potential compromise will significantly harm [its] ability to continue to operate successfully.” The company has ceased accepting deposits and will halt withdrawals on March 25. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident.

Chinese exchange Bter lost $1.75 million to hackers earlier this week and $5 million was stolen from Slovenia’s Bitstamp last month.


Why It’s Hot:
Bitcoin, an innovative payment network and a “new” kind of money, was first introduced in 2009. Over the years a number of companies, such as Overstock, Amazon, Target, CVS, Victoria’s Secret and Subway are accepting it as a form of payment. Unfortunately, it also seems to have attracted the attention of cybercriminals and businesses dealing in cryptocurrency should invest heavily in security measures.


“This is Washington. There’s always a leak.” (Brilliant social media response)

The third season of House of Cards showed up online long enough to freak out the entire Internet. Netflix said an internal bug caused the full third season of the show to momentarily (25 minutes) show up weeks early. Their version of damage control on social, was BRILLIANT.


Why It’s Hot:
A great demonstration of using every opportunity (even the unfortunate ones) to think and act creatively.


The Long Awaited Looping Video Has Arrived

On Febraury 4th, Instagram announced the rollout of this Vine-like video feature, which makes it easier for users to keep watching without having to click “play” over and over again. Brands who have already embraced the loop:

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Why It’s Hot:
The looping features lends to the creativity of the Internet. There is fantastic storytelling happening on Vine with just a mere 6 seconds … imagine how much deeper our stories can be with 15 seconds.

T-Mobile #DataStash Campaign

January marked the launch of T-Mobile’s #DataStash campaign, which they kicked off at CES with the #DataStash Dash Contest scavenger hunt. They held another #DataStash Dash Scavenger Hunt this week in Seattle (T-Mobile’s hometown) with a grand prize package to the Super Bowl.

The biggest buzz worthy moment happened this week when Kim Kardashian teased her T-Mobile Super Bowl commercial that supports the campaign, which of course leaked online. You can watch Kim being Kim below. #KimsDataStash

Why It’s Hot:
This demonstrates a well-orchestrated integrated campaign that consistently introduces new elements to keep it interesting and keep the buzz alive.

A new kind of art. Say hello to the GIF-iti Artist.

Paint the wall. Take a photo. Paint the wall again. Take another photo. Repeat. Cool right?

Renowned GIF-iti artist, INSA raised his animated GIF game … all the way to space.
4 days.
576 man hours.
57,515 square meters painted. 

Watch the making and see the final result.

Why It’s Hot:
Besides being a super cool application of GIFs, what resonated with me most was INSA’s parting words:

“Don’t be afraid to experiment. Don’t be afraid to push an idea. Don’t be afraid to explore it.”


Facebook Launches Facebook at Work

Facebook has introduced a new product that allows companies to create their own customized version of Facebook. It has just begun rolling out in select offices across the world with complimentary mobile apps for iOS and Android called Work. Their initial aim is companies with 100 or more employees.

It will mirror regular Facebook in terms of appearance and functionality – profiles, newsfeed, event hub, messaging and groups. The main differences:

  • It will not serve ads or track your data
  • It will remain a private, closed ecosystem only accessible to those inside a company


Why It’s Hot:
This is Facebook’s attempt at positioning itself against Slack and Yammer, which offer similar methods of work communication. It will be interesting to see if it gains traction, given so many users are already very familiar with Facebook – they may actually prefer it.


Get Customer Insight in Real-Time

There’s a new tool that is radically improving marketing research, known as RET (real-time experience tracking) and leveraged by leading brands including Unilever, PepsiCo, HP, Microsoft and InterContinental Hotels.

The tool is a quick SMS-based microsurvey that customers can take on their mobile phone every time they encounter company’s brand. The survey requires input of a four-character text message – that’s it! Read more here.

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Why It’s Hot:
RET data enables brands to identify not only what most motivates customers to buy your brand but also how various touch points combine in a chain to influence the customers’ decisions. It also enables companies to assess and respond in real time to customer’s reactions to products, services or branding efforts. These insights can be acted on immediately and achieve greater impact with lower spending.

Serial’s Massive Success

Have you listened to the wildly popular podcast, Serial? The story is centered around the 1999 Baltimore murder of a high school student.

It’s become one of the most-talked about stories of the year, logging 5 million downloads, faster than any other podcast, according to Apple. This success has reignited chatter about podcasting, a decade after it being the most hyped format of its days.


Why It’s Hot: 
Due to the growth of smartphones and the availability of podcasting apps, the format is regaining popularity. Market research firm Edison Research claimed in September that 1.7% of the time Americans spend listening to audio is devoted to podcasts, having noted earlier in the year that 15% of Americans – around 39MM people – said they had listened to a podcast in the last month.


Birth Control Data-fied

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Say hello to daysy, a fertility monitor that learns and tracks a woman’s menstrual cycle, allowing her to plan or prevent pregnancy. Daysy claims to show a woman if she’s fertile or not, with a 99.3% accuracy rate.

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Why It’s Hot:
Daysy is the big data version of an old school method of natural family planning, much like our grandparents generation would have used, that many young adults these days are embracing. The motive is not a factor of trendiness, but rather dissatisfaction with birth control. Interesting to see technology reinvent something once considered old school, and making a more natural option available to women.

There’s an ingestible sensor for that ….

The medical industry has been making some amazing advancements in wearable technology; wearables that can be worn, consumed and even surgically attached. Check out the full list here.  266-645x394

Why It’s Hot:
Reading about all of these devices made me feel like my Fitbit is already outdated. These advancements bring a whole new meaning to total health management and give us and the medical community greater insight into medicine, illness, and ultimately, the human body. The most intriguing to me was the Helius, an ingestible sensor that is taken with your medication to record that you’ve taken your daily dose and allows you to see data through the app. Yes, of course there’s an app for that …