#CATmaggedon

 

 

meowThe question: Can smoking kill cat videos? And if no one wants to live in a world without cat videos, we must stop smoking … according to the Truth Initiative’s commercial that aired during the Grammy’s.

Despite this somewhat faulty logic,  people have took to social media to express their reaction to the potential end of cat videos using the #catmageddon.

Why It’s Hot

This is certainly a departure from typical public health campaigns that usually focus on the effects an activity has on a person’s health, not their pets. While pet ownership in the U.S. is high as well as viewership on cat videos online, was this departure a solid strategy? Depends on how you look at it. Although this caught the attention of many, does it really encourage smokers to quit? Or would the behavior out of this more likely be to just smoke outside, where your animals aren’t? Either way, it is an interesting approach that has the social media sphere chattering.

Read more: here and here.

Instagram Goes to 60 Seconds for Advertisers

Some brands have found it difficult to tell their story on Instagram in just 30-seconds. Well Instagram heard their cries and is now giving advertisers a full 60 seconds to do their thing.

Reps from the platform stated “We recognize that advertisers have a variety of creative resources and want to bring more choice to help them reach their business goals.”

Some brands have already been experimenting with the extended ad format, including T-Mobile and Warner Brothers. Check out T-Mobile’s Super Bowl spot featuring Drake.

Why It’s Hot

Instagram has tried to ease users into the idea of ads onto the platform over the years.. and now this. A major reason that Instagram has extended the time of these videos is so that advertisers can use their pre-made ads and have more overall flexibility when creating content that will appear on the platform. For example, 1 minute ads that would typically air on broadcast or have to go up on YouTube can also now be housed on the gram. Also, let’s not forget to mention that this additional flexibility could result in an increase in ad sales for the platform. However, as this may help advertisers, does this extended format truly reflect user behavior and expectations. The reality is people have short attention spans and are use to quickly scrolling through their IG newsfeeds and looking at a photo for a few seconds. So considering user behavior and expectations, it becomes clear that this announcement is geared toward the advertisers and not users.

Read more here.

Uber Trip Experiences

Since Uber opened its API about a year and a half ago, developers have been brainstorming around ideas to incorporate their offerings into the rider’s experience. To help developers further, Uber hopes to give developers even more of an opportunity while simultaneously taking greater control of users’ ride by launching Uber Trip Experiences. The feature leverages riders’ tendency to spend their spare time engaged with technology to give those riders more enjoyment during the time they spend riding in the Uber.

How it works:  Uber Trip Experiences will collect information from the user’s phone, such as how much time the trip is expected to take, where the Uber car picked up its rider and where the rider is headed. Uber riders will have the option to connect with their favorite apps during the start of their ride, and the unique features offered by the apps might allow them to knock a few items off of their to-do list while riding, or to simply make the ride itself a more enjoyable experience.

For example, some apps might use the tool to gauge how long a rider will be in transit and offer a music playlist to match the length of the journey. Another option would be for an app to give riders a quick news update, or some insight into the city where they are traveling.

What if you don’t want any additional experiences during your ride? According to ride share company, the user will be in complete control. So, they can deny permission to individual apps and can turn off the feature all together in the Uber app if they choose to do so.

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Why It’s Hot 

Do we really need more curated content or experiences while in a share for a few minutes? Aren’t there other apps that serve the functioning of entertaining us while we cruise? Perhaps users will be attracted by having everything within one app. Personally, I see the opportunity more in using Uber to offer geo-targeted recommendations, deals or such that would help the rider even after they get out of the car. For example, if the app registers that the rider is going to a tourist site, could they offer tour deals or local restaurants recommendations? That could be useful!

Read more here

What Brands Can Learn From Consumer’s New Year’s Resolutions

As we enter 2016, and people are setting New Year’s resolutions, research states that approximately only 12% of Americans will actually keep to them throughout the year. The insight into why people fail or succeed with their resolutions and the understanding of consumers’ aspirations in the New Year can be valuable information for marketers. Ad Age published an article focusing on research around resolutions and the four  lessons marketers can learn to better target their consumers.

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1. The power of social proof. One reason people make New Year’s resolutions is simply because other people are making them. As Robert Cialdini, author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” says, “We view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”

The lesson for marketer: Make the example of others adopting the behavior change you require visible to the people whose behavior you want to change.

2. The importance of milestones. Research by Kathy Milkman at Wharton and others looked at how significant dates and times spur goal-directed, aspirational activities.

Lessons for marketers: Milestones matter, so look for one to ignite your behavior change strategy.

3 .Future self is a virtuous stranger. A fascinating area of behavioral insights is how timeframes affect people’s choices. When we contemplate our future self, he or she is a model of virtue, easily able to overcome the short-term temptation our present self falls victim to. So our resolutions are often “sized” for our future self, not for our fallible present self. So, resolutions suffer similarly. What seemed like a good idea on December 31 can become a royal pain a couple of months into the year.

Lessons for marketers: Programs that help potential customers bridge the gap between present and future self can also help marketers with the tricky job of selling products or services with future benefits.

4. Make it easy. This one is almost insultingly obvious. In the book, “Misbehaving: The Making of Behavioral Economics,” Richard Thaler writes that one of his mantras is, “If you want to encourage someone to do something, make it easy.”

Lesson for marketers: Make your marketing easier to act upon. How can you make the decision to choose your product both cognitively and physically easier?

Read more here.

 

 

Uses Public Feedback to Zen Out Through Social

Koko is a social network that attempts to calm users’ minds using a source of crowdsourced cognitive therapy. The network was founded on the idea that when people are stressed out they tend to become isolated and can often be too embarrassed to talk about their problems, however we are really stronger together. So, Koko gives users an outlet to anonymously post about their problem and receive advice and ideas for ways of coping.

More specifically, users can write about their topic of concern and other users can browse what has been written and help them through feedback. These can then be upvoted by the community to increase visibility, with all posts also moderated in real-time.

In a randomized controlled trial, a web-based version of Koko outperformed an existing intervention method on a host of psychological outcome measures. The results were analyzed by researchers at MIT, Northwestern and Columbia, with the findings being published in a leading medical journal.

Koko is currently available as a free app on iTunes.

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Why It’s Hot 

Koko is certaintly not the first company that is powered by collective intelligence, Wikipedia just to name one, but it interesting how they are using it to help promote well-being. And the idea of posting about your feelings on social is certainly not new but perhaps with the focus on anonymity and a community that wants to help one and other could differentiate itself. I do however still have several questions that may affect the effectiveness of the app – like is platform monitored? Would negative or insensitive feedback be deleted? Is there a risk management plan in place for severely depressed users that are contemplating suicide, are they promoting outside sources for users to seek help? etc. etc.

Read more here.

Facebook Testing Offline Features for Android

We’ve all been somewhere with bad service just sitting there waiting for our Facebook News Feed to update. Well Facebook is now trying to take care of that for you .. The platform announced it is continuing to feed the social media addiction by testing ways to help users with shaky connections access the app across the world.

More specifically when a user with bad service is on Facebook,  this update will take previously downloaded and unread items and push them to the top of the stream of posts you see from friends. Cached items will be displayed by relevance and replace the spinning icon that is normally displayed as the user waits for new posts to load.

Taking it another step further, the new functionality will allow users to comment on friends’ posts despite having no connection and post the comment when they’re back online.

It should also be noted that Facebook strategically decided to test this update on Android devices. The choice to test these updates on Android devices is especially key to Facebook’s growing user base in emerging markets in Asia, many of whom are coming online on slower mobile connections and on Android devices.

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Why It’s Hot

Facebook is finding new ways to fuel the addiction that is social media.Because one minute without social media is just one minute too much …

Read more here.

 

Pepsi’s Meta Intregration into Fox’s “Empire”

In the era of ad-skipping and ad blockers, marketers are challenged with finding innovative ways to get their ads in front of audiences. Facing these challenges, the Pespi brand recently launched an in-show integration with the wildly successful Fox TV show “Empire.” As part of a paid integration with the Fox program, Pepsi was featured prominently in the plotline of three episodes,  ending with the midseason finale on Wednesday.

More specifically, show star Jamal Lyons is approached by the brand about competing with other artists to become the face of Pepsi. In order to compete he must come up with a song for a Pepsi ad and be featured in it. The commercial will be introduced and played during the live show.

It is interesting to note that the commercial is directed by Lee Daniels, the co-creator and executive producer of “Empire.” Daniels not only directed the commercial in real life, he directed it in the show as well.

 

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Why It’s Hot 

This isn’t just an ad placement by a large brand. This type of integration works because it doesn’t seem forced. It works appropriately with the fit of the show. It was a strategic move for a large brand, with a big budget, to ensure that their ads are in front of the public despite increasing barriers.

YouTube Red

YouTube recently introduced YouTube Red, a membership service that allows users to pay a price to skip all the ads that interrupt one’s viewing experience. In addition, Red members can save videos to watch offline to a phone or tablet. The membership extends across devices meaning anywhere you sign into YouTube, including its recently launched Gaming app and new YouTube Music app announced last week. Lastly, YouTube Red also works with Google Play Music, so subscribe to one and automatically get access to the other.

YouTube announced it has plans for YouTube Red that go beyond an ad-free listening experience. The company announced it is planning to amp up the offerings of the YouTube Red Service in the future by broadcasting new original shows and movies from some of their biggest creators. You can read all about Originals coming to YouTube Redhere.

Currently, the service costs $9.99 a month and is available for a free one month trail for U.S. residents. (But don’t worry the ad-supported free service will still be available.)

Why It’s Hot 

Offering an ad-free service for a membership fee is certainly nothing new but it is interesting that YouTube made the decision now to offer this type of access. As an advertiser it will be interesting to see how ad prices on the platform are affected as more users switch over to membership status. Beyond the ad free offering, the evolution of YouTube Red including plans for original series is something we should all be following. Is this another way that a platform is supporting user behavior of cutting the chord and attempting to compete with the other services that speak to the increasing number of chord shavers? TBD …

Priciest Shows On Broadcast for Advertisers

For the first time since 2007 – 2008 advertisers are seeing a scripted broadcast drama, Empire, as the number 2 most expensive :30 commercial buy. As Sunday Night Football continues to dominate at the number one spot, the Fox’s drama is giving it a run for its money, a trend we haven’t seen in years.

Coming in at a whopping $497,364 average for 30-second commercial, “Empire” beat out Thursday Night Football and bumped down “The Big Bang Theory” to the fourth spot. The last time a broadcast drama fetched such high prices was during the 2007-08 season, when ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy” averaged $419,000.

See chart below for top 5 priciest shows for advertisers.

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Why It’s Hot:

With new platforms emerging constantly, advertisers have to be extremely strategic on where they choose to spend their dollars. Numbers like this reinforce that traditional TV advertising is not dead and has great potential to reach key audiences, if you’re willing to pay the big bucks. Lastly, it is interesting to note the shift back to scripted drama in a top spot while the NFL continues to really dominate.

Read more here:

Twitter and Facebook Quick Actions to Stop

Social media has the ability to spread news like wildfire, for better or worse. On Wednesday, Twitter and Facebook used its power for the better, to stop an extremely tragic and disturbing video from being widely circulated.

After a gunman shot and killed a TV reporter and her camera man while filming a segment in Virginia, he quickly uploaded the video of the shooting to his social media accounts, encouraging others to watch. In addition, the gunman, was posting disturbing tweets illustrating his motivations for the murder.

In only a matter of minutes, Facebook and Twitter responded quickly by deleting this horrible posts and ultimately shutting down his account. Facebook actually already had a policy in place under its Community Standards, which states “We also prohibit you from celebrating any crimes you’ve committed.”

 

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Why It’s Hot

Social media enables anyone to put on a show and have their world be their audience, without a gatekeeper. While this is often for positive purposes, in tragic events like this, we see the downside of these platforms’ ability to have content from anyone go viral. However, it’s a reassuring sign that the major platforms have crisis management plans in place and are able to respond in real time to intercept.

Read more here.

 

Snapchat Goes Political

This week Jeb Bush teased his intention to run for US president via Snapchat. The Florida governor and brother of George W. Bush used a message branded with a special logo on the filter to run a sponsored story.

Bush’s communication director made it clear that this announcement via the social platform was intended to reach a younger audience. He said “Everyone was excited about the opportunity to reach a broad, younger audience, give people a more authentic view of what happens at an announcement. Jeb is a tech nerd of sorts, so he is always wanting to use the freshest tools.”

Other political figures have also joined Snapchat, such as Gov. Rick Perry, Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Marco Rubio. However, they did not use the live storytelling feature of the app, which can be viewed by as many as 100 million of Snapchat’s daily users. For example, Perry snapchatted a video just prior to his announcement but will only get a reach equal to his followers.

Hillary Clinton, like Jeb, is also not officially on Snapchat. But while delivering her first major speech of her campaign on Saturday, was featured as part of Snapchat’s “Our Story.”

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Why It’s Hot

Politicians clearly want to reach their key demographics where they are. For the younger generation that means social media. We saw this with Obama’s presidential campaign and his heavy use of Twitter. It gave the nation the idea that Obama is more approachable and that there is opportunity to directly reach the President (or his team.) On the other hand, as a user of Snapchat, I am not sure how thrilled I am to have it filled with political stories and campaigns. If that is what I was hoping to see, I could turn on the news. And as noted above it is one thing if the political figures campaign and post videos and stories through their own Snapchat account, which I would then have to voluntarily opt into. On the other hand, by sponsoring stories, this content will show up in the newsfeed of all users. In conclusion, it will be interesting to see how these candidates continue to use Snapchat and other social media platforms throughout their campaigns.

 

 

The Instagram Calorie Calculator

Selfies, dogs, babies and food. The most common things that we see in our Instagram feed. Picking up on the popular user behavior of posting pictures of food to our social network, Google is rolling out a tool, Im2Calories, that is able to analyze food pics on Instagram and count the calories in them.

The way it works is if you upload a photo of a cheeseburger, Im2Calories could identify the pixels in the image as that of a burger, and calculate the calories based on its size relative to the plate and any additional condiments.

Some are not happy with the tool as they feel it is a “fat-shaming” tactic. Google defended itself by stating it is not a shaming tactic but instead provides an easier way for users to keep a food diary by taking the guesswork out of calorie count.

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Why It’s Hot (or not)

When we see photos of food on Instagram it’s not usually every day boring meals. It’s more the amazing and decadent brunches and celebratory meals. In the most common instances, people aren’t using Instagram as a food diary to live a healthier life anyway and it seems like Google is trying to force this behavior. Also, it’s important to note that when a user posts a photo of that glorious burger, they may not use the tool themselves but now any one of their followers can apply the algorithm to their post and pass a judgment. It just doesn’t seem that a social media app is the best way to host this tool.  Perhaps marketing this as a standalone app where people can voluntarily use it s they see fit on their own personal photos would be a better move.

Read more here.

Instagram Up its Value to Marketers

Instagram is going to begin including function buttons in their paid ad posts. In the caption of the brand image, there will be a “buy now” button for online retailers, an “Install now” button for mobile apps and a “Sign up” button for membership apps. The buttons will open in an in-app browser to keep the user in Instagram at all times, making it a more seamless process.

These new interactive ads will incorporate Facebook data, which should allow more small businesses to begin advertising on Instagram, since they will be able to purchase smaller ad buys that target a narrower group of people.

In addition to CTA buttons, Instagram has also added enhanced paid advertising targeting capabilities that very closely mirror those of Facebook. These enhanced capabilities allow advertisers to target their ads based on user interests in addition to age, gender and location.

The buttons will roll out gradually, beginning with testing in Spain this week.

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Why It’s Hot

This seems like a natural progression for Instagram, as they have a large and engaged fan base as well as an immense amount of data through their own app and Facebook. For users, this means a more seamless experience. For advertisers it means the ablity to tackle the right users

Read more here.

Snapchat & Shopping

Send erasing pictures to your friends, pay through us, read our curated content and now shop. Snapchat is looking to grow, grow and grow.

Most recently, Snapchat reportedly invested an undisclosed amount of money into  Spring, a clothing retail-like app. The app allows you to “follow” brands you like, provides inspirational recommendations based on your preferences and enables users to purchase within the app. Spring is already available for iOS and Andriod but is still in the process of raising more money.

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Why It’s Hot

Social media platforms these days are literally trying to do it all. The fact that this Snapchat is now tapping into ecommerce could be just the beginning of many more endeavors for the startup.

Blogging $$$

It’s an old practice for brands to partner with thought leaders in their field or celebs to help endorse their products. With the age of social media, we’ve seen a proliferation of “thought leaders” and “influencers” as anyone can create his or her own digital property and ultimately market themselves to become a leader in the field. In particular, there are a plethora of fashion bloggers who have huge followings on various social media platforms and are getting paid for it. As a marketer and fashion aficionada, I have wondered countless times about approximately how much these fashion bloggers get paid as more and more are relying on their blogger activities as their sole source of income.

Well recently Harper’s Bazaar gave me an answer when it conducted an exclusive interview with Danielle Bernstein, the woman behind the popular blog, We Wore What. (Me pictured with her below =))

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Danielle revealed that she typically gets paid anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 PER INSTAGRAM post. This rate can go up or down, depending on the terms of the deal, such as if a brand wants a long-term commitment or multiple Instagram pictures. With nearly 1 million followers, she is definitely on the higher end of the spectrum as the article states “if you have hundreds of thousands of followers you can make anywhere from $500 to $5,000 a post, but if you have upwards of 6 million followers, your fee can be $20,000 to $100,000 a shot.

In addition the fashion industry estimates that brands spend more than a $1 billion per year on sponsored Instagram posts due to the evolving platform economy.

WOW.

 

 

 

 

 

Tweet an Emoji For Your Next Pizza Order

I like emojis, I love pizza and I adore convenience. Soon Domino’s will be combining the three by enabling consumers to directly place an order by tweeting the pizza emoji to the food chain.

The company states it is rolling out the tweet-for-pizza feature in an effort to engage tech-savvy, busy young consumers. Other companies, such as Starbucks and the Miami Dolphins, have also used Twitter as an ordering platform but purely for short-term or testing purposes. However, it seems for Domino’s this feature is here to stay.

The tweet-for-pizza feature will debut later this month.

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Why It’s Hot:

Facilitating a 5-second exchange that ends with a pizza at my door is SMOKING. But beyond that it’s truly about convenience: Domino’s has progressed from phone ordering, to online, to a stand-alone app (that also allows voice ordering) and now to this. Domino’s is continuously meeting its consumers where they are, as 50% of the pizza orders take place digitally.

Read more here.

Smartphone Case To Charge Your Phone By Harvesting Energy From the Air

Who hasn’t looked down at their cell phone only to notice it’s on low battery or dying. For many, like myself, this is a daily occurrence. Despite this widespread annoyance, it seems battery technology has never been able to reach the modern smartphone’s demands.

Well Nikola Labs are stating that they may have the answer to this issue. The company claims that it can harvest energy from a mobile device’s ambient radio frequency (RF) signals and wirelessly convert that energy into direct-current power. To demonstrate the process, Nikola created a phone case that takes “wasted” energy from your smartphone—like the energy a phone uses while connecting to data and cellular networks—and turns it into power to charge your device.

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To be clear, the case won’t save your phone from eventually dying but it may improve your battery life by 30%.

The company will launch its first case, for the iPhone 6, on Kickstarter this summer.

Why It’s Hot

If this case could actually work as the company claims it could, this could be a game changer for many reasons. First, it addresses the obvious issues of constantly dying cell phones but also begs the question, could we harvest unused energy for other uses?

Read more here.

 

New Mobile Ads Recommend Videos Based on the News You’re Reading

There is no denying the proliferation (and necessity) of brands advertising on mobile. With an increase in mobile device usage and growing capabilities, more and more brands are meeting consumers where they’re at – mobile devices. However, due to screen size and other varying factors, getting consumers to actually engage with an ad and consider purchasing a product via mobile can be very challenging. In addition, many advertisers feel there are not many innovative options when it comes to delivering ads via mobile.

Well there is a new option in town, dubbed Kapsule, from the ad company Kargo. Basically as consumers scroll through articles on popular websites, a sponsored video player slides out of the right side of the page to recommend related content. If the user does not touch the ad it slides away after a few seconds. If they do interact with it, the ad expands the video to full screen. To make this happen, the tool first searches the article for keywords and then pulls a video about the same topic from the publisher’s database. This is a familiar concept as many publishers currently do this on desktop sites to increase traffic.

Target is the first brand to test this new type of ad. It is using the format to promote Easter products such as candy and cake decorations.

Why It’s Hot 

The concept is simple yet seems to have potential to be effective in the mobile space. As advertisers, we know that targeted and relevant marketing are keys to success and Kargo is enabling brands to do this on mobile without having to dramatically reinvent the wheel.

Read more here and here.

Vail Resorts Creates A Memorable Rider Experience

Brands are constantly trying to create a connection between in-store, or in this in case on-mountain experience, and the digital experience. In this case, Vail Resorts noticed that its audience were constantly posting (and often bragging about) their riding experience on its mountains. Although the brand recognized the existing behavior they knew they weren’t doing anything to facilitate this behavior to further engage customers. Ultimately there was a missing link between resort guests and the social media world.

Vail Resorts decided to create a mobile app called EpicMix. The app tracks vertical feet, number of lifts ridden and days skied/snowboarded. It also adds a gaming aspect by awarding digital pins for mountain exploration and challenges guests to explore the mountain further. All information is available in real-time for the individual user and other app members. Users can the feasibly post the data to social sites to share their mountain experience socially.

The app works by embedding radio frequency (RF) technology into every rider’s pass. Then, this technology captures data and stores it, starting with the very first lift ride.

In an effort to further motivate guests to post about their experience on social media for increased brand exposure, the resort stations 140 photographers on the mountain that take photos of guests at no cost. Guests can then automatically upload the photos onto Facebook or Twitter.

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Results:

  • In the first year 100,000 guests activated their EpicMix account
    • Of this 40% downloaded the app
    • 6 million digital pins were given out and 45% of users shared them socially, resulting in more than 35 million social impressions

Now that Vail Resorts is able to collect such an immense amount of data on consumers, they want to ensure that they are using this data efficiently to further business initiatives. A few ways they plan to use this data in the future include:

  • Prevent congestion on the slopes
  • Since location is tracked, the resort can direct guests to on-mountain dining
  • Send offers to entice guests to visit different locations or properties during their stay
  • Make slope recommendations based on history
  • Alert on-mountain guests about weather conditions on different parts of the mountain
  • Further personalize marketing efforts
    • The resort has already begun implementing this. For example, they categorize different types of skiers such adventure vs. family and tailor their communications to speak to the different segments

TIDAL: New High-Def Music Streaming Service

On Monday afternoon, celebs such as Jay-Z, Kanye West, Madonna, Rhianna, Chris Martin and Nikki Minaj (just to name a few) gathered to announce the re-launch of TIDAL, a music streaming service. TIDAL is a high-definition streaming service that will compete with services such as Pandora and Spotify. Jay-Z is the majority owner while the other artists on stage all have small stakes in the company as well.

Unlike other music streaming services, there is no free tier for subscription. Therefore, we can assume there will be no disruptive ads on the platform as we see with other free streaming memberships, however this has not yet been confirmed. For TIDAL, users will have to pay $10/month or $20/month depending on the quality of music they prefer. Additionally, the player is available as both a website and an app (no desktop player) and can stream to a number of speaker systems. An added bonus – Tidal will offer the ability to save songs for listening without an Internet connection.

Another edge that TIDAL may have is the releasing of exclusive content and invitation to special events for paying members.

Why It’s Hot

With the domination of streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, we haven’t seen a potential game changer enter the market in a long time. The switch of focus from price to quality enables the brand to position itself as premium and perhaps not truly in competition with any other services. Next, having people with star power backing this service is major. For example, celebs that have had constant battles with streaming services may actually volunteer to have their music on Tidal. If this is true, we could see both artists that are stakeholders in Tidal or support its mission, releasing exclusive content (perhaps even entire albums) on the service. If Tidal can convince artists to do this, they could gain a huge advantage over competitors.

Read more here.

#HurtsMeToo

After research revealed that one in five women in Hungary have experienced some sort of maltreatment and never asked for help due to feeling ashamed, one organization knew they needed to create a campaign that made these women feel less alone. As part of Budapest’s advertising agency AGC and the Hungarian Interchurch Aid’s larger campaign, they implemented an interesting tactic to show this solidarity; temporary bruise tattoos.

The idea behind the campaign was to provide a tool enabling people to express their sympathy for the victims and ultimately raise awareness and money for the safe houses operated by the Hungarian Interchurch Aid. The campaign is also supported heavily on social as it encourages consumers who purchase the tattoos to post a selfie with it on their skin using the #HurtsMeToo to illustrate how domestic violence is felt by everyone.

So far, more than a hundred celebs, media personalities and fashion designers have taken part in the campaign by purchasing the tattoos and uploading their selfies with the branded hashtag.

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Why It’s Hot

The tattoos are a visual tool to illustrate pain. The fact that people that are either direct victims of or not, are wearing the tattoos truly hits on the key concepts that this is a widespread issue that touches countless lives not involved with any domestic incidents. It was a creative way to encourage people to take action for a good cause because it hits both key objectives of 1)making money and 2) showing victims that other care are with them in their struggle.

Read more here.

A New Vue-ing Experience

This week Sony introduced Vue, a Web-based cable-TV streaming service that enables users to watch their live television shows directly on their PlayStation 3 or 4. Sony states it will be just like the TV you get from cable or satellite, however it will be sent over the Internet.
The company already has deals in place with 85 channels from networks including CBS, Discovery Communications, Fox, Fox News Networks, NBCUniversal, Scripps Networks Interactive, Turner, Viacom, and AMC Networks. (Notably ESPN is not offered) This large number of channel offerings is one way that sets Vue apart from Dish’s Sling TV, which only offers about 40 channels and no major broadcast networks. Another notable difference is that with Vue, consumers can use their PlayStation Vue account to stream different shows on up to three separate devices at the same time. With Sling TV, you can sign into your account from multiple devices, but you can’t watch different shows at the same time.
As for cost, the core package (50+ channels) is around $50 per month. There are also options to upgrade and add more channels for up to $70 per month. Compared to Dish’s Sling TV and streaming services such as Hulu and Netflix, this is definitely a bit pricier.
Currently, the service is only available in select markets and only works on the PlayStation 3 and 4. However, Sony says it also has plans to release a version of Vue for Apple’s iOS operating system and hopes to bring the service to other devices in the future.
Sony’s PlayStation Vue Brings Streaming Live TV to Your PS4 Without a Cable Subscription

The home screen is laid out with the app’s Timeline, My Shows, Favorite Channels, Live TV.

Why It’s Hot

In the age of cord cutting, we are continuing to see a growth in over-the-top services. Although this is not necessarily a new trend, it is interesting to note that more networks and channels are pairing up with providers to enable their content to be streamed. Also, the comment by Sony team members stating they plan to extend their streaming services to other devices such as iOS is definitely something to keep an eye out for. Lastly, as these OTT streaming services continue to become more popular, there could be an increased focus on Internet speed and superiority, causing traditional telecommunications companies to shift focus.

Record Your Parting Messages to Loved Ones on This New App

The new iOS app, titled Your Last Will,  enables users to say goodbye to their loved ones both publicly and privately.

Consumers who download the free app can also submit up to three public wills and one private will. Private wills differ from public because after recording and submitting the will, users will be issued a QR code. The app suggests that the app user, should give the code to “a trusted confidant who is likely to outlive you.” The “confidant” can then sign into the app to access the video and can send it to multiple recipients. Since these are intended to be the users’ last words, they will notified anytime a person scar their QR code and will have 24 hours to stop the delivery.

Also, if the free four wills are not enough for you, you can also purchase more public and private wills in $4.99 and $9.99 packages.

The app is designed in a way to be public and have users share their stories. For example, when you log into the app all public messages are sorted into sections such as newest, trends and most liked. Users can also interact by “hearting” the recordings.

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Read more here.

Why It’s Hot

What is truly private anymore? Wills and last messages are incredibly intimate and putting them into a public space to be seen by complete strangers seems like a bit much. The fact that you can even interact with others’ recording seems invasive, however people seemingly want to put their messages out there. Also, on the contrary, people often pass without getting to communicate with their loved ones and perhaps don’t think about it until it is too late. This app encourages people to think ahead. Lastly, it will be interesting to see if this idea catches on and perhaps one day these video recorded wills will work as legally passable wills. Currently, the US law doesn’t officially mandate the use of videos as a medium for the deceased to assign their belongings. However, the app’s creator believes the videos created within the app can be used as a vague guideline in the case of unexpected deaths.

Tinder Plus Launch

This week Tinder has officially launched a paid upgrade to their app that allows users to undo accidental left swipes and connect with people in other cities. Another interesting thing to note about Tinder Plus is that the cost of the upgrade varies by the user’s age.

In the U.S. if you are between the ages of 18 and 29, it will cost you $9.99 to upgrade. If you are 30 and up, you will have to pay nearly double the price, $19.99. In the U.K, even younger people will be required to pay more for the upgrade.Users 28 or older will be required to pay £14.99, while 18 – 27 year olds will pay £3.99.

Tinder’s new model also affects users who do not chose to pay for subscription.  The key difference is that those who opt out from Plus now have a limited number of swipes. As you flick through would-be matches, the big love heart on the app’s home page drains slowly — and once empty you have to wait until it tops up again before you can search for dates/hookups once more.

 

Why It’s Hot

It wasn’t the rewind feature or the ability to now connect with people outside of your geographic location that stood out to me about this upgrade. It was the increase in price for “older” users. It begs the questions, is this discrimatory?, is the app actually discouraging a segment of users? What research caused them to make this decision?

Additionally, this is clearly a way for the app to further profit of its popularity. They could have turned to ads instead but perhaps this is a more strategic move as consumers are being flooded with ads everywhere we go.

You can read more here and here.

 

 

The “Smart” Whisky Bottle

Later this year, some Johnnie Walker Scotch Whiskey bottles will contain a technology that can detect when your phone is nearby and send cocktail suggestions, advertisements, coupons, and reminders to stock up on more whisky, all straight from the bottle if you have the corresponding app. The smart bottle can also verify for you that your 12-year-old bottle of scotch has never been opened before.

Each smart bottle has a thin sensor tag attached to the side of it that contains OpenSense technology. The technology that allows the sensor tag to “communicate” with smartphones nearby using NFC, a radio-frequency technology. The sensor tag adds about 10 cents to the cost of each bottle.

Johnnie Walker has paired with Thinfilm Electronics, the company who has patented the smart technology to create the new bottle.

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Why It’s Hot

This technology will enable the Whiskey company to have more meaningful engagements with the its customers in a way we haven’t seen liquor companies being able to do before. It provides opportunity for Johnnie Walker to follow their customers throughout their journey from purchase to sending them notifications when it is time to replace the bottle. However, some critics believe this technology is ultimately another way for the company to encourage purchases of more things and is somewhat an invasion of privacy.

Read more here.

 

Dove Will Counter Mean Tweets During The Oscar’s

A recent Twitter study revealed that four out of every five posts about beauty and body image are negative. In light of this information, Dove has partnered with Twitter to counter negative self-esteem tweets with a positive message during the Oscar’s on Sunday.

The brand will use a tool to identify key words associated with body image and appearance and then self-esteem experts will craft the response tweets. In addition, they will be airing a TV spot during the Oscar’s preshow.

Although the brand is strategically launching this initiative during the award show, Dove plans to continue its positive tweeting efforts throughout the year as part of its #SpeakBeautiful campaign.

Why It’s Hot

This seems like such a natural move for Dove, a brand that continuously focuses on boosting self-esteem. In addition to being on brand, the strategic choice to launch the initiative on a night where women across the nation are comparing themselves to celebrities makes Dove’s efforts even more relevant. Lastly, choosing Twitter as a partner in this initiative was no coincidence. In addition to Twitter being a powerful social tool, the platform also sees an incredible amount of harassment between users. In fact the social network has been under scrutiny for their harassment policy and could be using this as a method to combat some of the negativity they frequently see.

Read more here.

Snapchat’s First Original Series

Last week Snapchat rolled out a media platform within the app, called Discover. Basically, the app paired with media companies to publish content within the app that is accessible for a limited period of time. You can read more details about that update here.

To expand its reach further, Snapchat will be premiering its first original series titled, Literally Can’t Even on its Snap channel, which is part of the discovery feature. The show will focus on fictionalized versions of Sasha Spielberg (Steven’s daughter) and Emily Goldwyn’s (John Goldwyn’s daughter) lives in LA.

Each weekly episode will be approximately 5 minutes long and only be available for 24 hours before they disappear entirely from the platform, staying true to Snapchat’s fleeting format.

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Why It’s Hot

Snapchat began as a simple photo messaging app with a unique feature of disappearing content. Its recent app updates show the brand is definitely moving beyond its core product in an attempt to monetize their efforts further. And with 100 million users it seems the platform has the audience to take it to the next level. If the company’s recent roll out positioned them as a media hub and potentially a publishing powerhouse now they are also in the realm of a Netflix as a creator of original content in addition to the curated. As marketers become increasingly interested in advertising on the platform it will be interesting to see how the app is able to enhance its segmentation capabilities. Currently the brand is only able to target by country. If, however they were able to target more granularly this platform could become increasingly appealing to marketers worldwide.

Read more here.

Life Size Pac Man: Bud Light’s Super Bowl Spot

Bud Light is known for its entertaining commercials during the annual big game and from the looks of it, the brand did not disappoint this year. The full 90 second teaser, which is by Energy BBDO, was released on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’ Thursday. (Jimmy Fallon’s show airs on NBC, which is the same network that shows the Superbowl.)

Continuing last year’s theme, Bud Light’s spot begins with a real man, who claims he is “up for whatever.” The man is then whisked away to a legendary night of iconic ’80s fun. In the latest teaser we see him being led to a giant interactive Pac Man game, where he is told he is actually Pac Man and must play the game. (Note this features actual people and events, not actors.)

Why This is Hot 

Bud Light strikes again and from the looks of things they have done it well. This brand has been consistent in standing out in the crowded Super Bowl advertising space. They have been able to continuously produce buzz-worthy, highly anticipated spots. In my opinion, part of the reason these ads are so epic is because they make consumers actually want to jump into the ad and join the night of fun (I mean who wouldn’t want to play a life-size Pac Man game?) Thus far consumers’ reactions have been overwhelmingly positive with high mentions on social media, increasing the buzz. Kudos, Bud Light!

Legal Trends in 2015 That Could Affect Advertisers

The FTC is somewhat of a frenemy to many brands. As we start 2015, Ad Age published an article focusing on the key legal issues that could affect advertisers this year.

1. Privacy of Consumer Data

Due to high-profile data breaches there has been a rising concern over consumer privacy rights. This is especially relevant for brands that use of consumer data for marketing purposes. More specifically, the FTC wants to to hold companies responsible for data breaches and other privacy infractions, the sharing of data with third parties, and the collection of information. In addition, the FTC is also fighting to keep its data-security powers alive at all as it is being challenged by Wyndham Hotels. Lastly, professionals are predicting the the FTC will be successful and advertisers will under increased regulatory scrutiny and inventive litigation as privacy rights continue to evolve.

2.  Sweepstakes via social media

The increased focused on this subject heightened in the end of 2014 as Facebook changed its policy to forbid advertisers from making fans “like” their page for access to specific content or to enter a contest. (This is commonly referred to as “like-gating.”) As law enforcers are increasingly viewing “like gating” and similar behavior as product endorsement, additional legal requirements (such as disclosure agreements) may be in order.

3. Rise in false-advertising litigation

After many faslse-advertising cases in 2014, the Court pass the Lanham Act. The Lanham Act gives brands a powerful weapon to bring false-advertising claims against competitors. This act was coupled with a March decision that allows parties to sue under the Lanham Act beyond just direct competitors. Experts predict that this will likely lead to an uptick in false-advertising litigation in the coming months.

4. Celebrity Endorsements 

Social media has fundamentally changed the relationship between brands and celebrities. After many issues, the FTC is keeping a closer eye on celebrity endorsements, both on the part of celebs and the brands. There is an increase need for both parties to disclose any and all affiliation to avoid legal implications. At the same time, brands need to be pay close attention to not use images of celebrities without their permission, as Duane Reade

Read more here.

Why It’s Hot

Perhaps this is not the entertaining but as regulatory scrutiny grows in the advertising space, it is imperative that professionals are aware to best advise our clients.

 

 

Chocolate 3D Printer – YUM

The tastiest new technology at CES 2015 award most likely goes to CocoJet,  Hershey’s chocolate 3-D printing machine.

CocoJet, prints rows of chocolate that add up to a yummy medley of interlocking geometric puzzle shapes. You can also invent your own shapes using the accompanying software and voila, your customized chocolate will be ready in about 15 minutes. The machine that is intended for bakers and chocolatiers is available in smooth dark, milk or white chocolate. designed for bakers and chocolatiers.

3D Systems and Hershey’s have not announced what the price of the printer will be or when it will go on sale.

Why It’s Hot

It is hot because it is sweet and it is chocolate. Additionally, 3-D printing is expanding to tasty treats and appealing more the average consumer. Lastly, the new technology focuses on personalization, an undeniable trend in the consumer world.

Read more here.