About Marcelo Di Franco

Cultural curious, advocate of the unconventional, creative catalyst, husband, future dad, runner aficionado, and Strategy Director at MRM//McCann

How A Harvard Professor Is Digitizing Scent

Cyrano is a “digital smell speaker” and the latest endeavor from Harvard professor and serial inventor, David Edwards—known for such madcap creations as smokable chocolate, edible food packaging, and inhalable alcohol.

Cyrano is a compact, portable device that emits 12 different scents that users can mix and match to create a “playlist” they can control via an app. The scents are divided into smells that are energizing, relaxing, and escapist. Selecting “Get Away,” for example, will give you a tropical melody of Bellini, guava, coconut, and suntan lotion; meanwhile, “Get Energized” will wake you up with scents like peppermint and orange ginger.

Edwards and his team are focused on incorporating curated scents into our environments to improve our well-being. He sees it as similar to how sunlight or sound can improve your mood. “From a conscious point of view, our perception of scent is secondary [to light and sound],” he says. “But from a emotive point of view, it is primary. In particular, in relation to wellness, scent is far more powerful than light or sound.”

At a conference, Edwards used data to explain how Cyrano can improve our lifestyles and well beings: “There’s a lot of data around wellness and driving,” he says, citing statistics that about 14% of driving Americans fall asleep in the car a day. “The car is also the perfect-sized space for containing a scent so that it doesn’t dilute or mix with other smells.” Cyrano is designed to fit snugly inside a car cup holder and can play “scent melodies” to keep you energized or emit odors that calm you down. The playlist is timed to shift scents every eight minutes in order to avoid olfactory fatigue—the point at which you become so used to the smell that you stop noticing it.

Perhaps the most interesting potential application for Cyrano is medical—and Edwards is already exploring it with the help of Richard Doty, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Smell and Taste Center. Doty’s research focuses on how scent detection correlates with disease—loss of scent is seen as an early detector for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, for example—and sees the app as a way to administer scent tests digitally. Eventually, Edwards says, they could adapt scent tests to broad public use, so that individuals could check their health in the morning with their own custom scent track. According to Doty, “humans actually have a very advanced sense of smell, we just don’t exercise it as much as other animals”.

For now, Cyrano is being released in a limited run of 500 devices—available here for $149—with a full product release later this year.

Source: FastCo

Why is this hot?

In a modern world where natural scents are lost in the madness of industrial odors, stimulating our senses to improve our health and wellness is like going back to our origins.

Consumers Dine Out More Amid Job Growth

A recent study by Visa Business and Economic Insights shows that consumer spending on restaurants has accelerated in recent years, thanks in part to strong growth in the job market, among other things.

According to the study, there is a direct correlation between increase in restaurant spend (especially among Millennials) and increase in jobs. It’s interesting to note that this sales increase in the restaurant segment is outpacing the growth of the overall retail sales, which indicates that, when it comes to retail spending, Americans (and especially Millennials) prioritize social/entertainment options like eating out, versus traditional retail spends that are more personal by nature, like fashion/clothing or personal care.

eat out

Another interesting learning shows that restaurant spending increased around the same time that gas prices plummeted, freeing up funds for discretionary spending. Restaurant credit spending growth began to accelerate in early 2014, with lower-income households (those earning less than $50,000/year) leading the way –the consumer group that benefited the most from the lower gas prices.

gas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why is this hot?

The correlation between economy/jobs and spending is well known, but the fact that eating out, a social activity by nature, is outpacing other retail categories, indicates a preference for bonding and connecting, over more individual rewards.

What It Looks Like When Your Social Media Presence Takes Physical Form

“The Social Ego” is a new project by agency RXM Creative that illustrates just how much our online social status affects our actual lives.

Connectivity is the most touted facet of social media, but let’s hear it for loneliness. Sure, Facebook digitally links you up with friends you’ve long since abandoned geographically, but it can also make you feel like the last person on the planet when those quasi-friends don’t like what you have to say or show. Very few modern experiences are more oddly isolating than the un-liked status update—that painting in a gallery that everyone walks right past. You could be at a restaurant surrounded by actual friends, post a picture of this summit online, and if nobody notices, feel even lonelier than if you were alone.

“The inspiration for the Social Ego came from the emotional turbulences we have individually gone through on social media, but also observing the huge impact a like can have on any of our friends and brands we work with,” says Raul Mandru, one of the RXM creative directors who brought the device to life, along with Mihai Botarel. “Although we still take social media with a touch of humor, it’s emotional impact is as real as it gets.”

Although the video is indeed funny, it also evokes the familiar panic of feeling unacknowledged. One scene uses the classic advertising signifier of sexual impotence, a sad couple in bed, next to a small Social Ego. It’s ridiculous, but not too far removed from the truth. Social media has given us a mainline to joy or sadness we never knew existed, turning neutrality uninteresting. Knowing that any picture or clever observation you post might not receive a warm welcome adds to the excitement. Every moment is a crap shoot, and doing nothing is boring.

What’s interesting, though, is that this condition doesn’t just exist among us plebs. Celebrities and even those who answer to a supposedly higher calling are held in social media’s thrall as well.

“Clearly in the media now the most prominent and also fluctuating Social Egos belong to the presidential candidates,” Mandru says. “Donald Trump must have a huge one, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton as well. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see their egos inflate and deflate in real time as the presidential race unfolds in social media?”

Source: FastCo

 

Why is this hot? Not, wait, I meant “sad”

Social media changed our self-awareness. That’s sad. Now, can a tool like this be used to increase other people’s self-esteem when they needed the most? Well, that’s still TBD, but if we find a way to do it, then that will be hot

Not All Olympians Are Millionaires In New Dick’s Sporting Goods Campaign

Back in January, Dick’s Sporting Goods (DSG) announced its sponsorship of Team USA for the upcoming 2016 Rio Summer Games, which includes an initiative that employs almost 200 athletes from 35 different Olympic and Paralympic sports in 89 of its stores in 32 states across the country. Now the brand has unveiled its first Olympic ad campaign, starring a handful of those Olympic hopefuls who moonlight as employees.

The campaign, by agency Anomaly New York, is a direct extension of the successful formula the brand has used over the last few years, tapping amateur sports to tell compelling stories.

Chief marketing officer Lauren Hobart says the brand has long focused on the struggle and success of the amateur athlete—through content like its Hell Week series and We Could Be King doc—and there is no better example of that than Team USA contenders who work to get to the Games.

Both the sponsorship and the ad are bang on brand for DSG, tying perfectly into its focus on amateur athletes and the knowledge that, yes, the bulk of us only care about sports like javelin or gymnastics every four years, but these athletes are inspiring people who walk and work among us. Going beyond a straight up sponsorship to include the employee program simply adds weight and—overused word alert—authenticity to the brand’s overall message.

Source: FastCo

 

Why this is hot

The brand brings a fresher point of view to Elite Athletes: they are human, just like us.

Adidas’s New Short Film Series Celebrates The Creativity Of Women

Women’s sportswear continues to be a growth engine for brands like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, and over the last few years we’ve seen that reflected in their advertising. Nike’s had its inner thoughts, Under Armour’s been willing what it wants, and now Adidas is launching a new series of short films that profile an exciting and eclectic group of women.

The first five films in the “I’m Here To Create” series are a fun peek into sports and athletics through the eyes of tennis stars Caroline Wozniacki WNBA all-star Candace Parker, DJ Hannah Bronfman, street athlete Robin Arzon, and fitness artist Nicole Winhoffer. Subsequent films will feature supermodel Karlie Kloss, soccer phenom Morgan Brian, tennis star Ana Ivanović, and more.

 

 

Source: FastCo.com

 

Why This is Hot

It’s the athlete’s voice. Not the brand.

 

A Computer Could Have Written All The Speeches You’re Going To Hear Before The Election

Why politicians are saying things in such a boring way that an algorithm could write them?

Most political speeches are ordinary and predictable. They contain stock phrases and tired terminology, not the inspired poetry of great oratory of past decades.

That means political speech-writing is just a matter of stringing together a series of building-block terms (“death tax,” “budget request,” “clean coal”) in the right sort of order.

And that’s basically what the algorithm developed by Valentin Kassarnig, a researcher at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, does: follows the convention of hundreds of real speeches to create new speeches.

Kassarnig analyzed 3,857 speech segments from 53 Congressional floor debates in 2005. In all, the dataset includes about 50,000 sentences, each of which contained about 23 words. He identified each speech by whether it was made by a Republican or Democrat, and used both a “language model” where the computer predicts the sixth word of a string based on the first five; and a “topic model”, which predicts a topic based on the previous subject of the speech to generate new sentences.

 

Why is this hot?

As technology continues to make inroads in the communication industry (political communication, in this case), words and phrases said by voters (or consumers) are  analyzed with such a granularity (polls, social listening, you name it), that politicians and brands feel tempted to repeat them in an effort to “connect” with their audiences. After a while, these words and phrases become so “necessary” to describe an idea (or a political statement), that everybody feels the urge to use it (brands and users, politicians and voters, reporters and media).

In this context, there is a big opportunity for brands, marketers and politicians, who want to stand out in this sea of sameness, and are willing to risk and not play safe.

A Robot Mickey Mouse Head Designed To Make Kids Go Nuts

The singing, spinning Mickeyphon samples the sounds around it, and incorporates them into its songs.

Mickeyphon, the latest project of the Polish firm panGenerator in a collaboration with Disney, resamples the people dancing and playing around it to create an endlessly mutating children’s song

The Mickeyphon is a robotic Mickey Mouse head, which looks like a Star Wars imperial droid wearing a set of Mickey Mouse ears. Although black when turned off, the Mickeyphon’s front panel comes to life when powered on, revealing a vivid LED equalizer that pulses with colored lights as it sings. PanGenerator calls these animated patterns faces: there are four in all, and they display randomly. The faces are meant to give Mickeyphon a playful personality, especially since it is programmed to rotate and sing to whomever is making noise around it.

Source: FastCo

 

Why is this hot?

Imagine the future of the music industry. And Collaboration. And Creation. And audio production. And movies. And live concerts. And…

Facing a Big Business Challenge? Make It An Opportunity!

that’s exactly what Tina Fey And Amy Poehler did to promote their new movie “Sisters” during this overwhelming “Star Wars” season.

 

This Holiday season, the funny ladies are facing a big business challenge, they compete with the most anticipated movie of all time. Star Wars: The Force Awakens is perhaps the most anticipated movie of all time, which means that going up against it is a scary proposition for the non-franchises being released around the same time.

“Sisters”—the Tina Fey and Amy Poehler vehicle directed by Jason Moore—openly acknowledges this fact in a new featurette. The spot cleverly shows off the fact that Fey, Poehler, as well as Maya Rudolph, are all funny as hell—mostly by having them make Star Wars references for two and a half minutes as they sell their movie around the theme #YouCanSeeBoth; and in the process, they inserted their movie in the bigger conversation around the much anticipated “Star Wars” movie.

 

Why Is This Hot?

By embracing the challenge in such a clever and funny way, “Sisters” is now part of the conversation around the much anticipated “Star Wars” movie.

In Today’s Digital World, These Gorgeous Wooden Toys Unleash Kids’ Inner Astronaut

Kids love playing astronaut, but most non-digital games are based on cheap plastic, and hard to assemble and “transform”; which leaves little room for imagination.

Enter Cosmos, a kit of wood parts that lets kids design and build their own galactic vessel.

 

The 28 wood blocks, created by New York-based Huzi, are milled into abstract, geometric shapes, and magnetic connections make the blocks as easy as Lego bricks to assemble and take apart. Kids can configure the blocks to create rockets, satellites, shuttles, landers, or whatever else they please.

“No blinking lights. No complicated electronics. No forgettable plastic toys that end up in garbage dumps. Instead, we set out with the ambition to create toys loaded with meaning like imagination and simplicity,” Huzi says on its Kickstarter campaign.

 

Why Is This Hot?

Because it reminds us that, even the most complicated technology can make things simpler… and better!

Red Bull’s Psychedelic BMX Video Cycles Through An Incredible Optical Illusion

Over the past few decades, BMX cycling has evolved from a niche activity for kids who wear jean jackets and listen to punk rock, to a marquee event at the X Games, to a bonafide Olympic sport. But despite all this, the freestyle form—with the jumps, ramps, and stunts—still holds plenty of outsider appeal.

This new video from Red Bull, featuring Scottish BMX pro Kriss Kyle, explains part of how and why Freestyle BMX remains so interesting. The video—called “Kaleidoscope”—transforms a fairly complex course into a giant optical illusion, and sets Kyle loose to ride through both the illusory effects that change around him, and the practical, but complicated, elements.

In addition to the video, Red Bull created a site where fans can learn more about the sport, Kyle, and, of course, Red Bull.

Source: FastCreate

 

Why This Is Hot?

It’s Red Bull’s DNA, and it’s very well done, which means it appeals to everybody, not just BMX fans.

 

 

REI Opts Outside With Anti-Black Friday Campaign

This Black Friday, the outdoor retailer REI chose to stick to its brand essence (and in the process disregard its retail business model), by discouraging people from joining the mad shopping rush to instead enjoy the great outdoors.

The new campaign, which uses the hashtag #OptOutside, exposes the contradiction between the typical shopping craziness of this time of year and the peaceful outdoors, in an attempt to remind outdoors lovers, not just what they would be missing, but, more importantly, how contradictory it would be for them to trade a day in the outdoors, for a day at a crowded and crazy mall.

But that’s not all. To remain consistent with it’s message, the company is closing all 143 of its stores on Black Friday, while still paying its employees to take the day off too.

The campaign also includes a spot with REI chief exec Jerry Stritzke introducing the idea from his roomy office

Why is this hot?
Like my grandma used to say, if you can’t be the first one, at least be the only one.
This campaign will surely resonate with REI core audience, increasing brand preference and word of mouth.

Foot Locker, ASICS Kick Off Runner Inspiration Contest

Remember “Just Do It”? Great line, right? But what about the personal stories? Introducing: “Do It For A Reason”. At this point, I have to say that I’m a runner who runs for a reason. I started to run 9 years ago when I realized that if I was ever going to become a dad, I was not going to be a young one. I that point, I decided that I wanted to be an active father for my future child. In other words, there’s a reason why I run, which is why I love this campaign! (spoiler alert: our daughter was born last August and will be 8 weeks old next week)

The “Real Lives. Real Runners” contest is a partnership between Foot Locker and ASICS, and a follow-up to last year’s “All Runners Welcome” effort. Five films have been selected, and you can count on 26.2 miles of sniffles: It includes an ex-con who took up running while still in prison, one young man inspired by his late mother, another out to beat the running streak of his late father, a Stage IV melanoma patient and an Army veteran.

 

 

Based on number of You Tube views through Oct. 15, the creators of the top three spots get to fly to New York City for a Foot Locker and ASICS America screening event, with the final winner being selected a panel of judges, and the winning spot is scheduled to air on the national TV broadcast of the 2015 TCS New York City Marathon, scheduled for Nov. 1. The filmmaker who wins also gets a cash prize from MOFILM, plus an all-expenses paid trip to Las Vegas for the annual MOFILM Awards.

For ASICS, the Japanese company that stands for “Anima Sana In Corpore Sano,” or “A Sound Mind in a Sound Body,”  the films reinforce its commitment to the many reasons people take to the streets. “The videos are incredibly exhilarating and truly speak to the diversity of what running means to people from all walks of life,” says Shannon Scott, ASICS America senior director of marketing, in the announcement.

Source: MediaPost

All films: YouTube

Why this is hot?

Simply put: human connection! By getting to the core of what motivates people to run, ASICS connected, not just with runners, but with every person who has a dream, a mission, a vision and a goal for their lives.

Ditch That Water Bottle And Drink Your Water Out Of An Edible Blob

Ooho is an edible water “bottle” that turns your disposable drink into something more like an overripe fruit. To make one, a blob of water is frozen then coated with a transparent, dual-layer membrane made of brown algae and calcium chloride. When it’s done, the water is held in the bag, and you just take a bite to drink it. The Ooho just won a $22,500 European sustainability award.

 

The blob, which looks a little like a silicone implant, is a compound made from brown algae and calcium chloride that creates a gel around the water. “The double membrane protects the inside hygienically, and makes it possible to put labels between the two layers without any adhesive,” says co-founder Rodrigo García González. The blob is intended to replace petroleum-based plastic water bottles, sales of which are about to hit 233 billion liters this year.

Clearly, the Ooho is impractical as a drinking container, as the video shows. But a biodegradable container made from renewable sources that is so “natural” that it can be eaten—this really could replace any plastic packaging.
Source: FastCo?
Why is this hot?
I think we can all agree that there are too many packaging on the shelf, right?

Ad-Blocking Apps Top Apple App Store Chart

Peace, a $2.99 ad-blocking app created by former Tumblr engineer Marco Arment, currently sits at first place in the iOS paid apps, bumping Microsoft’s Minecraft, according to Recode.

Since Thursday morning, Peace remains at the top of the chart, but other apps have moved up. Purify is in the No. 3 slot and in fourth is Crystal. Further down the ranking, Blockr is in the No. 13 slot.

Apple's App Store chart as of Thursday afternoon

Only time will tell if ad blocking on mobile will truly get any traction beyond initial interest or curiosity. As Recode points out, “ITunes ranks apps by total sales and speed of downloads, giving stronger weights to suddenly popular ones”, making the new shinny object, shine even more.

Ad Age recently tested some of these ad-blocker apps and, aside from sponsored posts on apps like Facebook and Twitter, the ad blocking was effective.

While technology allows brands to serve more relevant ads to their audiences, it also gives marketers a chance to disrupt people’s lives at any given second. The big question is: How do we use data to be as effective as possible, without going too far and provoke the opposite reaction on our audiences?

Source: AdAge

 

Why this is hot

Wait, is this hot?

Tinder Moves to Business Networking for Ambitious Millennials

Tinder is teaming up with Forbes to build a social networking app for ambitious millennials who seek entrepreneurial pursuits rather than romantic interests.

Though the app can potentially introduce new co-founders, mentors, sales leads and the like, an initial launch looks to limit the community to Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, an affluent community of 30 year olds (or younger) who’ve already ‘made it’ financially and entrepreneurially.

Tinder Moves to Business Networking for Ambitious Millennials

Setting up an alumni-like network, the commercial schmoozing space will operate under the premise of ‘speed networking’—the same foundational principle Tinder is founded on that made it famous—and is set to takeoff October 4 in Forbes’ latest 30 under 30 summit.

The process is a learning experience, argues Forbes’ Head of Mobile Products Salah Zalatimo who says “…this [will] serve as a nice experiment… We think about meeting people as sort of a general challenge. We don’t want to solve it for just one [form of relationship].”

 

Why this is hot

Tinder takes its core principle (speed + connections) to activates new audiences, uses and business opportunities.

Celebs Spotlight Domino’s’ High-Tech Ordering Options

In new TV spots, four celebrities are letting the world know that Domino’s’ pizza and other menu items can now be ordered by using emoji texting, tweeting, Samsung smart TV, smart watches and voice ordering through the Ford SYNC AppLink system or Dom.

Sarah Jane Hyland of “Modern Family” uses emoji texting; “Desperate Housewives” alum Eva Longoria uses her TV; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman uses Twitter; and Marvel movies star Clark Gregg uses his smart watch.

The ordering options, which are enabled by a technology suite called Domino’s AnyWare, are summarized on and accessible through links in a dedicated area on Domino’s’ site.

Source: MediaPost

 

Why is this hot?

Think about your decision journey. You are watching a movie at home, and the characters are eating pizza, or you are driving and you see a billboard of a delicious sub. That’s awareness and consideration, but not conversion. Until now!

Hershey Uses Tech To Get Consumers Down Grocery Aisle

hersheyIn a category where sales are mostly driven by impulse, Hershey is using technology to drive sales at the aisle.

Because people are really unpredictable when it comes to what they like or don’t like, and, therefore, what they buy or not, Hershey wanted to understand what really triggered sales.

To do so, they partnered with Affectiva, a company that created a unique technology that reads and analyzes human emotion from a single expression, which is mostly used for market research. However Hershey Co. had a different idea. The confectionary giant, working with tech firm Wild Blue Technologies, wanted to use the technology to drive consumers down the grocery aisle.

The company invited consumers to walk to the middle of the aisle, where they would find an Affectiva-powered kiosk prompting them to smile into the machine for a free sample.

The kiosk took up precious retail space, but retailers loved it because it drove foot traffic and loyalty, and for a brand like Hershey, giving up space was worth it if it meant means getting people down the aisle and driving just one potential sale. Retailers even offered to give us more space because of the idea.

 

Why this is hot

Technology is bringing sales back to marketers’ control, by driving people through the experience we design, in a way that feels natural, not force.

Talenti Uses Social Posts To Create Personal Flavors

Unilever brand Talenti Gelato is generating personalized flavor concepts for fans by analyzing their social posts.

Consumers are being encouraged to visit the campaign’s “Flavorize Me” site by August 22 to elect to have an algorithm connect to their Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The algorithm analyzes commonly used words and hashtags to create personality/flavor profiles for each user that specify percentages of sweet, spicy and salty, and to generate a list of ingredients that fits with each profile.

Each ingredients combo in turn generates an ideal, not-in-existence personalized flavor. Given that there are hundreds of available ingredients, there are about 50 million potential flavor combinations, according to the brand.

Talenti

Examples of flavors generated so far, displayed on the Flavorize Me site, include Honey Allspice Nectarine, Marmalade Cabernet Peanut Butter Cup, Ebelskiver Biscuit Mint, Gingerbread Loganberry Malbec, and English Trifle Peanut Butter Cup Lavender.

 

Why this is hot?

It’s more than product customization; it’s your personal brand! It starts with consumer data, followed by a thorough analysis (algorithms included) that deliver not just flavors, but an insightful picture of where consumers’ tastes are going. And it ends beautifully with a personalized product that takes the brand to a real next level: less about the “brand” and more about the consumer.

As more consumers are less interested in owning a car, automakers are becoming mobility companies

More cities become more crowded. Drivers want to drive less. People want to walk and ride their bikes more. Cities want to manage the chaos. And automakers are rethinking their business. Take a look at what Ford is doing:

in January, Ford Motor launched the Smart Mobility Plan, a global program that, based on some 25 transportation and telematics commerce research, is testing flexible ownership, and multi-modal urban travel.

The first test will involve peer-to-peer ride sharing. Ford Credit is inviting up to 14,000 pre-screened customers in six U.S. cities and 12,000 in London to sign up to rent their Ford Credit-financed vehicles for short-term use. That, says Ford, will help them offset monthly vehicle ownership costs.

“Consumers tell us they are interested in sharing the costs of vehicle ownership, and this program will help us understand how much that extends to customers who are financing a Ford vehicle. As most vehicles are parked and out of use much of the time, this can help us gauge our customers’ desires to pick up extra cash and keep their vehicles in use.”

Ford is also looking at bicycles as a way to extend mobility beyond four wheels. The new electric MoDe:Flex electric bicycle, the third Ford has introduced since March, folds so as to be stored in (ideally) a Ford vehicle, where it can also be charged.The bike is paired with a mobile app, including one for smartwatches, that gives weather, congestion, parking costs, time, traffic and public transportation info. It includes eyes-free navigation, route planning, and health and fitness information, per Ford.

Source: MediaPost

Why this is hot? As technology changes people behaviors and expectations, companies have an opportunity to reinvent themselves and create new products that add more value to people, while remaining true to their DNA.

Mobile Enables Sharing of ‘Personal, Relevant’ Moments via Facebook, Instagram

Facebook IQ examined how the emergence of mobile technology has change the way people share moments, and how that sharing has become more personal and relevant, shifting from the “rigid 15-, 30- and 60-second frameworks demanded by TV ads to the types of sharing that occur in real time, via mobile devices.

Take the moment experienced by many new parents, for instance: the up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-when-you’re-feeding-or-rocking-your-baby-back-to-sleep moment. Facebook found that new parents in the U.S. are active on Facebook in the wee hours, with their first mobile sessions of the day starting as early as 4 a.m. and peaking at 7 a.m.

Or take the moment when people discover a new TV show. We found that, for many people in the U.S., that moment of discovery is now happening online. This is especially true for millennials, three in five of whom go online to discover new TV shows. What that means is they are no longer discovering entertainment content solely on the screens where they consume it.

Then there are seasonal moments like summer, which is about to officially begin in the U.S. Summer hashtags related to #fitness on Instagram highlight people’s #motivation to #exercise, #eatclean and make #healthychoices. As people unwind by taking advantage of the many activities that summer has to offer, expect to see the rise of “relaction”—relaxing through action.

http://www.adweek.com/socialtimes/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2015/06/FacebookIQMomentsThatMatter.jpg

Source: adweek

Why this is hot?

Mobile technology allows brands, not only to be part of these micro-moments (as Google called them), but, more importantly, to understand and predict them.

Mobile Ads Send Store Visits Up to 80% on First Day

As mobile adoption continues to grow, we see how consumers rely on their smart phones (and tablets) more and more. From on-the-go search and social interactions, to at-home-second screen usage, smartphones give marketers access to consumers’ minds and hearts like no other channel. And with the right message, mobile can deliver great results!

The 2015 “Mobile Audience Insights Report,” released today by NinthDecimal, found that store visits shot up to 80% during the first day a mobile ad was run by a retailer, then trailed off to 18% above average the next day before settling back to normal on day three (read the full article here).

 

Moreover, between Q2 and Q4 of last year, the average time a consumer spent with a mobile ad increased more than five seconds to nearly 29 seconds. Certain verticals (see below) blew that number out of the water: Entertainment companies averaged nearly 47 seconds, retailers clocked in at just over 38 seconds, and the QSR industry saw a 12 seconds increase.

These numbers are impressive, and they reinforce the significance of reaching out to our audience at the right moment, with the right message and at the right channel; and the importance of connecting the dots between channels/platforms (digital, mobile, social, TV, etc.), messaging strategy and media investment.

 

Why this is hot?

Digital = ROI, that’s why!

The Newsroom is Dead. Social Media Killed it.

Social Media is the Local TV for the Next Generation

According to a new Pew Research Center report on political interest and awareness among 18- to 29-year-olds, about 6 in 10 online Millennials report getting political news on Facebook in a given week. That’s a much larger percentage than any other news source.

This stands in stark contrast to internet-using Baby Boomers, for whom local TV tops the list of sources for political news at nearly the same reach (60%).

Millennials and Baby Boomers: A Generational Divide in Sources Relied on for Political News

This occurs even though Millennials express less interest in political news. Roughly a quarter of Millennials (26%) select politics and government as one of the three topics they are most interested in (out of a list of nine).

 

Why this is hot?

Social media personalizes the news. The good side is you get to read what you want. The bad side is you get to read ONLY what you want.

Facebook Becomes A News Distributor With “Instant Articles”

Now that “Instant Articles”, Facebook’s publisher outreach program, is finally launching, the social network brings The New York Times, BuzzFeed, The BBC and others on board with consumers “real-time/anytime/all-the-time” digital expectations, thanks to publishers ability to post content directly to the Facebook platform (and keep 100% of revenue from ads they sell against the stories!).

4-Video

Facebook was known to be negotiating with publishers about terms of the deal for the last several months. But publishers, who have grown ever more dependent on referral traffic from Facebook, have been wary of giving up the advertising revenue and user data they glean from people who visit their sites.

However, the terms of Instant Articles seem good enough to assuage those who might be hesitant. Also the partnership is experimental — there are no commitments to publish a certain number of articles a day and publishers can stop at any time.

The nine launch partners are The New York Times, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, NBC, The Atlantic, The Guardian, BBC News, Spiegel and Bild — with the Times, BuzzFeed, the Atlantic, NBC and National Geographic expected to post stories in the format Wednesday morning.

Facebook says Instant Articles are designed to load quickly on users’ mobile phones — at launch they will be available on the Facebook iPhone app.

Read the full story here

 

Why this is hot?

With this move, Facebook becomes a news aggregator, allowing users to access full articles from nine different sources, on the same platform; while giving Facebook, news organizations and advertisers, a lot more information about their audiences.

Millennial-Mobile “How-To” Searches Explode On YouTube

“Explainer” videos an often overlooked content marketing opportunity. Well, not anymore…

Google says that “how-to” searches on YouTube have grown 70 percent year-over-year, adding that “more than 100 million hours of how-to content have been watched in North America so far this year.” And guess what, much of this activity on YouTube is happening on mobile devices.

youtube-iconsbkgd-1920According to Google, “91 percent of smartphone users turn to their smartphone for ideas while doing a given task.” Google also reports that the largest demographic group doing these “how-to” lookups is Millennials.

Perhaps most interesting to marketers, the company points out that roughly 30 percent of Millennials report buying a product as a result of watching a how-to video. Google refers to these “how-to” mobile queries as “moments of intent.”

And some companies are already taking advantage of this. For example, paint brand Valspar’s YouTube channel has content that spans from project inspiration and color guidance to painting processes and tools, helping people throughout the purchase journey. According to Heidi Petz, VP of Marketing at Valspar, “seeking content can happen early in the project for those who plan in advance, during store visits to guide purchase decisions, and even in the middle of painting a room for those who didn’t prepare or want to ensure they are ‘doing it right, and Mobile is increasingly becoming the dominant way [consumers] access our content.”

To get familiar with Google’s best practices to leverage this “trend?” read the full article here

 

Why this is hot? At the beginning of the social revolution, everybody was talking about “bringing value to consumers’ lives”. Today, the motto is still valid, but not necessary exclusive to social.

For Mother’s Day, Samsung didn’t create an ad. They just showed reality.

The new Samsung’s funny Mother’s Day ad reminds young consumers how bad their moms are at, well pretty much anything technology related… including texting.

As Mother’s Day has become a repetitive cryfest in which advertisers keep tapping into the same sentimental formula, this Samsung ad, “#TextsFromMom,” is a breath of fresh air.

The spot looks at how your mom probably uses text messaging—or rather, misuses it. The whole thing is pretty funny, and nicely pokes fun without getting too mean. And it sticks the landing by reminding you that you shouldn’t be texting with Mom at all this Sunday.

You’ll also notice that some of the moms’ phone numbers are visible in the spot. If you dial them, you get to hear what they have to say in their voicemail messages.

You can also show off your mom’s funniest texts using hashtag #TextsFromMom for a chance to win a Galaxy S 6 edge.

Source: adweek.com

Why this is hot

How many Santa Clauses ads did you see last December? How many of them did you care about?

And how many “Moms being hugged by their lovely families” are we going to see this Mother’s Day season? More than we need, which is why this Samsung ad is hot!

Samsung Crafts an Avengers VR Experience You Can Try Right Now on Your Phone

Samsung’s new campaign has it all: virtual reality, celebrities athletes, thanks to the client’s stable of sports’ stars, and a unique approach to The Avengers, as a result of the brand’s partnership with Marvel’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

The centerpiece is a two-minute VR experience for the Galaxy S6 and Gear VR Headset in which you’re placed dead center in the middle of a battle between the Avengers and Ultron robots.

This impressive VR experience it’s available for download  at the Oculus Store. Those without a Gear headset can still get an approximation of it, though.

The YouTube video below was designed as a 360-degree experience—if you watch it on an Android device, you can move the phone around in all directions and see difference parts of the room as the action unfolds.

But the second part of the campaign is even more impressive. The spotlight moves to the movie theme –as the athletes give life to the superheroes– powered by stunning visual effects that do more than just entertain users and viewers: they tell a compelling story about the powerful technology behind the Samsung brand.

 

Why is this hot? The brand capitalized its stable of athlete celebrities, and its partnership with Marvel to deliver a relevant experience to fans of soccer, football, cycling, surfing, and of course, fans of The Avengers franchise. And in the process, they connected with all audiences (general market, Hispanics, African Americans); all while making the brand and the product at the center of the story.

 

Brainwave Headset Lets Travelers Fly to their Dream Destination

In a recent marketing campaign, S7 Airlines gave consumers with the opportunity to win free tickets to their dream destinations—provided they could think hard enough about their desired destination.
Brainwave Headset Lets Travelers Fly to their Dream Destination
The “Fly to any place you can imagine” campaign provided over 250 participants drawn from the crowds at the bustling Afimall City mall in Moscow, the opportunity to win free plane tickets to the destination of their choice.
Participants were asked to choose their destination, explain their rationale, and focus very hard on it, in order to guide the on-screen plane along the flight-plan whilst hooked to an EEG-brainwave headset right out of the annals of sci-fi. If the plane was able to reach the destination in 45 seconds, that zen master was then offered free tickets to that same location.

 

Why this is hot?  From a technology standpoint, this puts consumers in control of the experience. Imagine the consequences for the entertainment industry. What if we can create our own movies or change plots, based on our thoughts?

Source: psfk.com

Panasonic Brings Far-Flung Families Together With ‘HomeTeam’

Having an online video chat with a young child can be a frustrating experience. The controls are not particularly intuitive for kids, and they haven’t yet learned how to keep up their end of the conversation, leading to some not-exactly-quality time.

To bring far-flung families (particularly grandparents) together, Panasonic is launching a new app, “HomeTeam,” which allows family members (again, particularly grandparents) to share content such as books and games — and video chat — over great distances via Web browser or tablet.

“It’s the next best thing to being there in person. Phone calls and ordinary video chats with young children lack the depth and duration needed to build and sustain strong relationships and can leave grandparents or other callers searching for something to talk about”, says Steve Safier, President of Health & Wellness Solutions for Panasonic North America.

To develop the app, Panasonic spent time studying how families struggled to create meaningful connections outside of family events and visits. Among other things, the company was able to determine that frequency of communication also increases and it is primarily driven by the grandchildren who clamor for more personal time with their grandparents. With those learnigns in mind, Panasonic developed HomeTeam to encourage sharing meaningful screen time between grandparents and grandchildren. It focuses on depth of communication and not simply frequency or reach.

The app includes more than 600 titles of popular children’s books (including series such as “Curious George” and “Martha Speaks”), as well as a variety of age-appropriate multi-player games, to share in real time with video chat capabilities.

 

Why this is cool?

Connections. Better connections!

 

Source: MediaPost

Amazon Brand Buttons Make Ordering Household Products Even Easier

Amazon Brand Buttons Make Ordering Household Products Even Easier

Amazon’s newest tool, is a small tab that can be attached to a wall or appliance to ensure you never run out of the daily supplies that keep your life running smoothly.

The Amazon Dash Button connects via Bluetooth to an app on your phone. When you notice you’re running low on the brand depicted on your Dash Button, you press it. Dash signals your phone, which connects to Amazon and orders a new supply shipped to your house.

http://cdn.psfk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/amazon-dash-how-it-works.png

Users can use the app to monitor, change or cancel orders in real time, or just to keep track of their stock supplies at home.

Initial reception of the Amazon Dash has been mixed: remote-control consumerism at this level does feel like a not-so-gentle satire of some aspect of American culture. Since consumer experience reports have yet to see the light of day, only time will tell how successful the Dash will be.

Source: psfk.com

 

Why this is hot

It helps consumers to keep their groceries list updated in real time, without having to rely on their memory. On the other hand, every doctor I know says that it’s good for our mental health to practice our memories. But I guess Amazon thought about that too, by allowing the Dash to order and ship your memory drugs for you! Just kidding…

Disk Cactus has created a way to use emojis on your laptop in any Mac application

You Can Now Have an Emoji Keyboard for Your Mac

Emojis are everywhere. And there’s a reason for that, they can sum up someone’s emotions in one image, saving time and the emotional suffering to have to write about how sad one feels. We can even have a whole conversation in a language made of pure imagery.

Now, a company called Disk Cactus (which can be spelled out in emoji—see below) is designing an emoji keyboard to take these pictographs from mobile to computer

.http://cdn.psfk.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/diskcactus.png

The Emoji Keyboard is a combination keyboard cover and software that will allow Mac users to put emojis in emails, word documents, presentations and more. All users need to do is download the software, place the cover over your current keyboard, and no matter what program you’re in, simply press Caps Lock and use all the emojis you want.

 

Why this is hot?

It will make emojis easier to use for everybody, on any device, application software and platform, taking the emojis language to a much more universal place (and eventually replacing our alphabets?) After all, we all descend from the caveman, right? 🙂