Snapchat Introduces A Redesign… Again

After Snapchat swore that they were going to stick by their decision to separate “Friends” stories and “Professional” stories they have updated their platform yet again. This time, they’ve kept the stories separated but now you can view all of them on the same page.

Users and celebrities alike commented on how much they did not like Snapchat’s (former) redesign. Back in February, Kylie Jenner Tweeted out that she doesn’t even open the app anymore. This little Tweet led to Snapchat losing $1.3B from it’s stock market value.

Snap’s CEO, Evan Spiegel spoke on the new redesign stating, “We are now focused on optimizing the redesign based on our ongoing experimentation and learning,” he said, explaining the changes. “For example, when we separated friends’ Stories from creator Stories, we also moved them to the left side of the camera and merged them into the Chat feed. We learned that combining watching Stories and communicating with friends into the same place made it harder to optimize for both competing behaviors.”

Why It’s Hot: It seems as though Snap’s former redesign all but killed off the platform. It will be interesting to watch and see if this latest update will win back some love from their (former) users.

Source: Newsweek 

Evan Spiegel: Snap Update Is ‘Here To Stay’

As you may have noticed, Snapchat has recently redesigned their app, moving stories and personal Snaps to the same section, while creating a separate category for influencer’s and celebrities (or those with large followings).

The redesign has many users confused, frustrated and even forfeiting their Snapchats altogether. CEO Evan Spiegel says that the redesign is here to stay, regardless of the numerous complaints and gripes. Since the update, over 83% of users have reviewed the redesign negatively. They’ve left 1 or 2 star reviews on Apple’s App Store review feature. Yikes.

However, Spiegel wants users to rethink the way that they’re using the platform. He firmly believes that with time, and a new adoption process, users will come to love the new layout. He says, “Even the frustrations we’re seeing really validate those changes. It’ll take time for people to adjust, but for me using it for a couple months I feel way more attached to the service.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Why It’s Hot: Many people have written off Snapchat, hypothesizing that the platform will be dead within the near future. However, Snap and Spiegel refuse to let that become reality. With this redesign, they’re hoping that it changes not only the way that users interact with each other but how they interact with their cameras as well. This new update could either make or break the platform, only time will tell.

Pregnant? Clear-Blue or IKEA

Exciting news doesn’t just come from a Clear-Blue test anymore. Anticipating on being pregnant? No need to go into your local pharmacy and purchase a pregnancy test.

IKEA just released their latest product… a pregnancy test! How does it work? It’s  going to start appearing in your favorite magazines and readables – all you have to do is pee on the strip (just like any regular pregnancy test) and then wait a few minutes. If you’re pregnant, a sweet surprise will be waiting for you. A discounted price of a crib will appear, in red, signaling that you or your spouse is pregnant!

Why It’s Hot: Not only is this extreme out-of-the-box thinking for a furniture store known for their inexpensive products and Swedish meatballs, but it is also proves as an extremely creative example of how a brand can insert and position themselves in the lifestyle change of a family.

Source: Here.

Wendy’s Hosts an AMA.. And It’s EPIC!

Wendy’s peeled back the curtains and gave the social media world a peek inside of their brains. They hosted an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on December 14th, the night before, they sent out a message on Twitter that mentioned that they would be hosting an open Q&A on Reddit.

They received a groundswell of positive feedback from their fans. They were asked tons of questions ranging from serious to humorous, and everything else in-between. The company gave a peak into what goes on behind-the-scenes with the people who run their Twitter account.

Fans were curious about everything from what Tweets were the teams’ favorites, to asking if they’ve ever gotten in trouble by their management for something that they’ve Tweeted out. This personalized approach to interacting with their fans gave a humanistic perspective to a huge, widely recognized social media brand.

Link To Reddit: Here

Why It’s Hot: While the social voice of Wendy’s is extremely distinct, and even snarky in nature, this provides a good example that human works. Fans have taken well to this informal, real interaction with one of the most popular social media accounts.

Amazon Alexa for Business

Amazon announced that they will begin to sell voice-activated tools for the work place, bringing the convenience of voice to the office. The hope is that workers will begin shouting things such as, “Alexa, print my spreadsheet” or “schedule a meeting for me”
New Amazon Echo devices on display in front of the Seattle Space Needle during a promotional event in Seattle on Sept. 27.

Tired of dialing in the conference ID? Just ask Alexa to do it! By simply saying, “Alexa, start the meeting” the software will automatically connect you to the meeting. Additionally, Alexa for Business will be able to use calendars and contact information associated with Microsoft Exchange.

Source: Entrepreneur 

Why It’s Hot: This could be the start of the revolution of transforming the workplace.

280 Characters—Have At It!

It’s official—We all have 280 characters now! Let some users rejoice, and others complain.

The update is now public for all users to enjoy/disdain. For those who oppose Twitter’s decision… don’t fret just yet. Twitter says that when the 280 character limit trial went out to a select few, they found that “people Tweeted below 140 most of the time and the brevity of Twitter remained.” In other words, people seem to continue to share their messages in short, concise ways.

Twitter’s decision to increase the character count was initiated because users’ who post in certain languages had to condense their messages more than others. There is some valid data to back up their decision; According to their research, 9% of Tweets in English hit the character limit—after addition of extra characters, that number shrunk to 1%.

Some believe that 280 characters may not change the function of Twitter, it could just make things easier. After analyzing the data from the trial, Twitter states that only 5% of Tweets that were sent out used more than 140 characters and only 2% went over 190 characters.

Source: Twitter’s Blog

Why It’s Hot: While Twitter’s data shows that the way that users are posting on the platform hasn’t changed much during the trial period, only time will tell how this may develop down the line. Perhaps users’ habits will evolve with this update, motivating them to share more detailed messages—something they haven’t been able to do since Twitter’s inception in 2006. It will be interesting to see how brands will alter their strategies, if at all.

Starbucks Holiday Cups Are Out…

…lets see how offended the internet gets with this one!

All kidding aside, Starbucks just released their holiday cups for 2017, and they’re pretty cool! The cups are designed for customers to color on and put their own unique twist on them. Although we can’t give them all of the credit for this one – the coffee connoisseur took this concept from their customers and workers who frequently draw their own designs on its cups.

Why It’s Hot: C’mon, this just screams UGC. Although this is nothing new for the brand as they frequently use content from their fans, this new design is sure to be shared millions of times over.


Meet Sophia: The World’s First Robotic Citizen

Meet Sophia – the world’s first robotic citizen. On Wednesday, Sophia took the stage at the Future Investment Initiative where she addressed hundreds of delegates. She has been granted citizenship, the first of it’s kind of a robot, in Saudi Arabia.

Hanson Robotics, a company based in Hong Kong, is responsible for building Sophia. While at the event, they gave a presentation that displayed her immense capacity for human expression.

When talking about becoming the world’s first robotic citizen, Sophia said, “I am very honored and proud for this unique distinction. This is historical to be the first robot in the world to be recognized with a citizenship.”

Not only does Sophia have voice inflection while speaking, but she is also able to display facial expressions. She also wants to make the world a better place, she states that she wants to use artificial intelligence to “help humans live a better life” and that she will do as much as she can to make the world a better place.

Source: Business Insider

Why It’s Hot:
Robots. Are. Taking. Over!!!! All kidding aside, this is a huge stride for robotics and artificial intelligence.

Burger King Fights Bullying

In their latest ad, Burger King speaks out against bullying in an effort to bring awareness to National Bullying Month which takes place in October.

The ad documents a real-life social experiment where they hired teenage actors who were supposed to portray bullies, picking on their target in public. Burger King set up hidden cameras to capture real-life customers’ reactions to the teens bullying their “friend”. The customers that were shown during this phase of the commercial look shocked, but don’t speak up. They continue to enjoy their meals as the teen is getting bullied and picked on by his peers.

Next, they showed what it looks like to “bully” a Whopper Jr. They had their cooks “punch” the Whopper, wrap it up and serve it to customers. Each customer with a burger that came out sub-par, brought their smashed burger to the cashier’s attention. The cashier responds, “is your burger bullied” – the customers were thrown off guard, not understanding the context of what was happening.

They flash two statistics onto the screen; “90% of customers reported the bullied Whopper Jr,” while only “12% of customers stood up to the High School Jr. being bullied.” The ad demonstrates that bystanders to bullying find it easier to not get involved, than to stick up for the person who is being bullied.

As the ad concludes, two different customers are shown as “heroes” as they go up to the teen who is being bullied, and set his peers straight. One goes as far as to give his testament as to why he decided to stick up for the kid being bullied, noting that he has been in his position before. The last image to appear on the screen says, “Help stop bullying at”

Why Its Hot:
Burger King wins with this one, as far as social-purpose advertising goes. Not only do they stand up for a cause that needs to spoken up for much more from large brands, they do it well. The end user feels as though they are getting something from watching this ad, and the timeline of the events hooks them on to watch until the end.

Google Express Just Upped Their Game

A few years ago, the idea that Target and Walmart would publicly chat about having the same strategy would have seemed odd—the retail titans are notoriously tight-lipped about their tactics, particularly when it comes to giving the other intel on what they’re doing.

But as Amazon’s dominance continues to grow, stealing shoppers away from brands’ ecommerce sites, an intriguing partnership today with Google offers a look at how retailers could be more willing to put their differences aside and work together to fend off Amazon’s encroaching competition. While Google said that it will keep the two partnerships separate from a data-sharing perspective, the deals show how major retailers are willing to back the same initiatives for the sake of shaking off Amazon.

“These partnerships aren’t about voice—they’re really more symbolic of the fact that major retailers are willing to partner with Google in the fight against Amazon,” said Cooper Smith, director of Amazon research at L2. “Brands and retailers need to scale their audiences in order to compete against Amazon online, and Google can offer them that. We’re in the beginning stages of what eventually could be a legitimate alternative to Amazon.”

Today Target announced that it’s making its inventory available on Google Express, the shopping service that also counts Costco, Kohl’s and Walgreens as clients. Consumers will also be able to ask Google Assistant, which is plugged into its Google Home devices, to order products.

By next year, shoppers that use Target’s credit card to purchase items will save 5 percent on orders from Google Express. The retailer also plans to build out a capability that allows consumers to link their accounts to Google to receive personalized product recommendations.

In August, Walmart announced a similar voice deal with Google that allows consumers to purchase “hundreds of thousands of items” by linking a website account to Google Assistant. Over time, Google’s technology can remember which products, sizes and flavors someone regularly buys to make check out a bit faster.

Now, Walmart and Target will somewhat compete on terms—or keywords—that consumers order from Google. For example, if someone asks Google Home to order detergent and they shop from Target more frequently than Walmart, Google will surface product recommendations from Target.

“This is clearly a chain reaction to the Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods,” said Mario Natarelli, managing partner at MBLM. “Google’s expertise founded around search gives them a profound understanding of consumer intent—they probably know more about what people are specifically searching for than any other company. Finding ways to bridge that with what Walmart or Target understands around satisfying demand seems like a potentially powerful partnership.”

Source: AdWeek

Why It’s Hot
I guess it truly is Amazon against the world… Who would have thought that two major competitors would ever join forces, let alone allow their products to be sold on the same platform. Target joins Walmart as one of the major retailers on Google’s e-Commerce store, Google Express, that allows shoppers to access a variety of products all in one place, ala-Amazon. Both retail giants will have their products on the website, where shoppers can shop right from their Google Home devices. This is sure to be an interesting battle going forward, as Google has more access to an unlimited amount of data surrounding keywords and how users shop than any other company.

How SeaWorld Made the Most-Liked Ad

SeaWorld’s image sank a few years back in the wake of the controversial Blackfish documentary. That film probed the death of whale trainer Dawn Brancheau, killed by an orca at SeaWorld Orlando in 2010, and condemned keeping such creatures in captivity.

Today, however, the marine life park is turning the tide, on the marketing front at least. It just topped Ace Metrix’s quarterly survey of “Top Breakthrough Ads” with the 90-second spot below, created by Charleston, S.C., agency Push Digital. Ace defines its Top Breakthrough Ads as the ones with the highest combination of “Attention” and “Likeability” scores in its methodology.

Whoa, that pouty porpoise and sweet-faced seal are so gosh-darned adorbs, SeaWorld must be the greatest place on earth. Right?

While there’s nothing revolutionary about the ad or its creative approach, those cuddly rescued animals and feel-good vibes did really resonate with viewers.

In fact, according to Ace Metrix, the SeaWorld spot “ranks as the single highest-rated travel ad” in the research group’s database, which dates back to 2010. “Viewers were moved by the powerful message, which was reinforced by beautiful visuals,” Ace says in a post published with the rankings. “After dealing with a tarnished reputation in recent years, SeaWorld successfully demonstrated to most viewers that they are committed to making a positive impact on this planet.”

Michael Rentiers, president of brands and advocacy at Push Digital, says that his shop—well-versed in crisis communications and political campaigns—chose to create inclusive content that emphasizes SeaWorld’s broader mission beyond its tarnished reputation as an entertainment venue.

“Our goal was to cut through the clutter and to present SeaWorld in a new light, with a larger mission that every SeaWorld guest contributes to,” he tells Adweek. “We wanted people to see that SeaWorld is a premier destination that is a force for good in the world. We absolutely feel like we are accomplishing our goal. A good political approach is about moving people to take action. We took a creative and emotional approach to a direct message: ‘Together, we can save the oceans and ocean animals, and have fun doing it.’”

Adds agency CEO Wesley Donehue: “We just need to get the truth out there and show that SeaWorld is spending a ton of money making the world a better place.”

Source: AdWeek

Why It’s Hot

It’s a little ironic that one of the most publicly-disliked brands has created the Most-Liked Ad. Although SeaWorld’s brand image and credibility may have been tarnished in recent years – this article serves as a good example as to how brands can still revitalize their reputation and hone in on their message. By showcasing all of the “good” that SeaWorld is doing in a documentary-style way, they have almost silenced their naysayers (for now). Instead of focusing on keeping marine animals in captivity, they are trying to change their brand perception and show that they are actually rehabilitating and “saving” these species.