ClassPass wants a piece of the wellness tourism boom with “Getaways”

ClassPass announced today that members can soon book mini-vacations and “experiential events” on its wildly popular platform. Called “Getaways,” the new feature relies on ClassPass credits to book day-long wellness experiences that will range from workouts to self-care services, in collaboration with boutique gyms and well-known spas.

Wellness travel, defined as vacationing while enhancing or maintaining one’s physical, mental, or spiritual well-being, is now a $563 billion global industry. The Global Wellness Institute reports that while overall tourism is growing at 6.9%, the wellness tourism sector grew 14% in the last two years and is now one of the fastest-growing tourism markets.

“There is no end to work. You’re constantly stressed,” Beth McGroarty, research director at the Global Wellness Institute, previously told Fast Company. “It’s pushing people to want vacations that are restorative and actually make them feel better. They desperately need it.”

While female travelers increasingly use their time off to reignite their health pursuits, many millennials seem to prefer the fitness retreat model. In a survey of nearly 5,000 Well+Good readers: 40% of respondents reported they’d rather go on a fitness retreat with their favorite instructor than attend a five-star resort like the esteemed Miraval in Arizona. (The findings were on par with a recent study conducted by SpaFinder).

The first ClassPass Getaway location will be revealed on August 29, with members able to book the vacation seven days prior to the event. The latest feature comes just weeks after the company announced it raised $85 million in series D financing, totaling $255 million raised.

“At ClassPass we aim to provide stepping stones toward an active and inspired lifestyle, and ClassPass Getaways will do just that,” said ClassPass founder Payal Kadakia in a statement. “We’re thrilled to give members the opportunity to take a mini-escape from their day-to-day to try new things and explore unfamiliar places. It’s our hope that attendees will leave feeling energized and empowered to continue living life to their absolute fullest.”

Why it’s hot: This is a step in the right direction for Classpass, but I wonder if this is the right approach for the typical Classpass user/demographic vs. the Soul Cycle and Rumble Boxing crowd — will they be willing to splurge on retreats vs. saving on spin classes? Time will tell!

Source: Fast Company

New CVS smartphone app offers medical attention 24/7

MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, will now allow patients to use telehealth for minor illnesses (such as coughs or colds), injuries, skin conditions, and “other wellness needs,” reads a press release. The service is a collaboration between CVS and Teladoc, which specializes in virtual care technology.

The service will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via the CVS mobile app. Patients ages two years and up are eligible to dial in and be matched with a board-certified Teladoc health care provider licensed in their state. Each video session costs $59 and requires a patient to fill out a health questionnaire that includes their medical history.

MinuteClinic Video Visit is currently available in nine states–Arizona, California, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, New Hampshire and Virginia–and in Washington, D.C., with nationwide expansion expected by the end of the year. It is not currently covered by insurance, but CVS says it will be added in the coming months. During initial testing of MinuteClinic, CVS found that 95 percent of telehealth patients were highly satisfied with their quality of care, with most appreciating the convenience of checking in from the comfort of their homes.

Physicians and nurses are steadily adopting telehealth, which has been popularized by younger consumers looking for efficient, cost-effective solutions. For patients in remote areas or for people suffering from chronic ailments or issues that prevent them from moving easily–such as arthritis–telehealth can be a crucial option.

Why it’s hot: This is a smart move for CVS to get somewhat ahead of the trend and planning to adopt nationwide. “According to a recent medical survey by Kantar Media2 out of 5 physicians participate in telemedicine or plan to within the next year. For those who don’t, 80% feel that a percentage of their patients could be successfully diagnosed or treated via telemedicine.”

Source: FastCo

Why people need to know before they go

A new Think with Google article has been published: “Why people need to ‘know before they go‘: Today people can – and do – prepare for every aspect of any experience, big or small. Whether they’re taking a vacation across the globe or dining at a neighborhood café, people have a low tolerance for surprises.”

Here are some of the highlights I found particularly interesting and helpful…

We analyzed search trends and spoke to consumers, identifying three motives that drive them to know before they go. Explore the data to understand how your brand can provide value in these moments.”

Sparking Excitement:

  • Many want a look at what their experience could entail. For example, we’ve seen over 55% growth in mobile searches for “menus” over the past two years.
  • Rising inquiries include…

Building Confidence:

  • People feel a need to prepare for every detail of their experience – from exploring maps to confirming business hours. Consider this: mobile searches for “wait times” have grown 120% over the past two years.
  • Rising inquiries include…

Making the most of a budget:

  • In the past two years, mobile searches for “do you tip in _” have grown over 70%
  • Rising inquiries include…

Why it’s hot / implications for marketers: 

  • Understand intent signals: Whether it’s to get excited, build confidence, or manage their money, people are using search to shape and validate the decisions they make. We should understand this to adapt our messaging accordingly.

  • Build useful tools: People rely on the web to plan the best experience possible. We should provide assistance with tools that cater to these experiences.

Source: Think with Google

Self-Diagnostic Platform Uses AI To Provide Users With Reliable Medical Information

Instead of stressing over impending death after searching online about a mild cough, a new self-diagnostic app called K Health wants to offer users relevant and accurate information based on data and health records of other people who suffered similar symptoms.

The Israel-based company uses machine learning to compare 1B+ medical charts, labs and doctors’ notes to show people how people like them dealt with the same symptoms. (Essentially, it’s a crowdsourced Web MD). “With K, we use real data from millions of people so [users] discover and understand the medical outcomes of people like [them] and have informed conversations with providers about treatment options,” said Allon Bloch, the co-founder and CEO of K Health.” It’s about time people had unfettered access to trustworthy health information backed by real doctors as opposed to the generic and confusing information found online.”

It can also help users book appointments with physicians who already have HIPPA compliant access to the platform’s K report through partnerships with local providers, now available in New York.

Why it’s hot: This is just another example of giving people real-time access to health information through easy chat functionalities, that is crowdsourced from credible information, and ultimately connects them with the professional care they need.

Source: PSFK

Target Invites Consumers To Co-Create Products Using A Secret App

Target has a secret app called Studio Connect that allows for a select group of customers, personally invited by the retailer, to participate in the brand’s product development process. The platform’s interface is similar to Instagram. While brands such as Everlane have used the social media platform to host an invite-only community, Target takes this consumer-loyalty initiative in-house.

SVP of product design and development at Target Julie Guggemos explains, “Studio Connect enables our designers to interact with guests at any point while developing products, encouraging conversations and adding a level of flexibility to the formal feedback process.”

A recent study shows that consumers are more inclined to trust brands that encourage them to be a part of the R&D process, and 79% of consumers expect brands to show how much they value customer insights. Through its use of a familiar interface, Target is able to build a community with consumers outside of the purchase stage of the customer journey. For example, When Target was creating tee shirt designs for Mother’s Day, consumers were able to provide slogan ideas via the app within 24 hours of the retailer’s inquiry.

Why it’s hot: Although this isn’t a net-new tactic for a company to implement, it is a step in the right direction for Target to further understand their consumers and develop the products they want and need.

Source: PSFK

“Westworld” Makes AI Game

The Maze, a new choose-your-own-adventure game for Amazon’s Alexa, lets you play the role of a Westworld host, taking you through up to 60 storylines with 400 unique game choices, and up to 2 hours of storylines and narrative choices.

The Game features two of the show’s main actors–Jeffrey Wright, playing Bernard, and Angela Sarafyan, reprising her role as Clementine. Following on a simple chatbot, an AR and VR project, and a life-size replica of the show’s main town, Sweetwater, complete with actors fully in character, built for South by Southwest, the Alexa project, first conceived of in March and completed in just three months, is timed to the highly anticipated finale of season two (this past Sunday).

Those who have an Alexa-enabled device and download The Maze skill will start their adventure by saying, “Alexa, open Westworld” before venturing into the show’s world as a Westworld host–as the humanoid AIs in the show are called. They’ll be tasked with answering questions about the show, and trying to advance through three levels of increasing difficulty.

“Among the storylines users will explore are an encounter with a posse of bandits riding through Sweetwater; a ravenous family of homesteaders in Python Pass; a devious barback at Las Mudas, a run-in with a Confederado in Pariah, and more. Keeping in mind tips like showing the blackjack dealer at the saloon some respect and not pestering a traveler outside The Ranch about her experience at La Cantina in Las Mudas will help users do better.”

Why it’s hot: This is an engaging and shareable game that is right in line with the Westworld cult fanbase. I would be interested to see completion rates, as well as the % of Alexa owners who use it for games. However, regardless – this is a great way to engage this fan base!

Source: Fast Company

Anti-seizure smartwatch might help us manage stress

The Embrace sensor-laden wearable was designed to help epileptics monitor seizures. Modeled like a smartwatch, the FDA-approved device analyzes physiological signals to detect seizures. The CDC estimates that 1.2% of the population suffer from epilepsy. Empatica attempts to make living with the condition more manageable, while at the same time, using the study of epilepsy as a stepping stone toward an even bigger, more widespread issue: stress and how to deal with it.

Stress elicits responses in the sympathetic nervous system that can activate sweat glands, often turning your palms clammy. But even if you are not noticeably sweating, the current that runs through activated sweat still changes the surface of the skin, called skin conductance. “And that’s one of the signals we measure that changes with stress,” says Picard (co-founder and chief scientist of Empatica Inc.)

The Embrace by Empatica also monitors other physiological data—pulse, blood physical activity, sleep, and temperature. The device, which pairs via Bluetooth to a smartphone, alerts epileptics (or caregivers) when an attack occurs—or is on the horizon. Additionally, Picard began to use Empatica’s early sensor technology to better understand kids with autism, who, she says, are often misunderstood. “People with autism are often very stressed, and people surrounding them don’t notice it. By reading the skin conductance signal, people could see if the person was inwardly very agitated or inwardly very calm–even if outwardly they looked the same

Finally, one of the Embrace’s top selling points is customization. Empatica relies on machine learning to accumulate data on users’ habits and cycles, thereby improving its forecasting ability. The more data you have from each patient, the better the algorithm gets over time.

“A lot of these disorders are related to managing [daily] complexities in life,” Picard explains, adding, “so what we want to do with the monitoring technology is help people navigate better choices for their behavior . . . The idea is that you can sort of intervene and learn and change things over time.” Solutions can be achieved with sleep and breathing changes, counseling, or by adjusting diet, workload, physical activity, or “some complex mix of some or all these”.

Ultimately, the goal of Empatica is to further data analytics, specifically predictive analytics. The idea is that with enough information, the devices can suggest what people should do next to prevent panic attacks and other stress reactions. The company has launched another smartwatch sensor, called E4, just for scientific research (and not for sale).

Why it’s hot: Monitoring stress and its effect on mental health will only become more important int he future and I think this wearable tech is taking a step in the right direction at helping consumers understand their own mental states and help them be more mindful.

Source: FastCo

Lyft partners with 25 cities to integrate public transit options

Lyft has partnered with 25 cities to integrate public transit options into its app. This is part of a larger app update that takes effect this month. The new app will give users the ability to walk to set destinations along a route for pickup to make shared rides faster. Lyft Line is also taking on a new name: Shared Rides. In early testing among employees, the company says that shared rides have increased 5% with the new app design.

This update is intended to have a Lyft drop off a passenger at (for example), a train station, and then pick them up once they reach their destination to take them on the next leg of their journey. In effect, a Lyft could roll up to meet you just as you’re stepping off the bus. If it makes sense for the rider to take public transit as part of their journey, Lyft will suggest a route and include the price of public transit in its total fare.

Why it’s hot: I think this is a step in the right direction for Lyft – they already have had superior ride-share options than Uber (cheaper, direct pick up and drop off), and I think this is the logical next step for them. Additionally, it’s not surprising that this new app design has increase rides by 5% already!

Source: FastCo

 

Home Telemedicine Kit for Children

Startup Tyto Care created an at-home kit that lets parents take readings from a sick child and send them to their doctor for analysis and non-urgent care. Their tech sends at-home results taken by the parent to a doctor for analysis.

The $299 kit comes with a modular device with a stethoscope, thermometer, otoscope and special camera, so parents can monitor the heart, lungs, ears and take high resolution pictures of the eyes, skin, and throat. From there, the pediatrician (who needs to already be subscribed to Tyto Care in order to access the data) looks at the readings and gives a diagnosis. The system is not designed to replace taking a child to a doctor if they have a very high fever or are showing signs of distress.

This new technology takes into account not only the healthcare needs of children but also the struggles of the parents to give them the right non-urgent care.

Why it’s hot: This is some awesome tech that can ease the minds of parents (especially first-timer) if their child is sick. Additionally, the data implications are (somewhat scary) but could potentially predict illnesses in the future and cut urgent-care costs. The downsides are that some parents might become over-reliant, they might not trust this startup with their child’s personal data, and the HCP must be “subscribed” to this.

 

Source: PSFK

Try on your kicks before pressing “place order” online

When it comes to clothing and footwear purchases, customers still sometimes have no choice but to purchase products online blindly without being able to try them on, hoping that it looks good when it shows up. AR company Vyking is offering a new feature that hopes to solve this problem by letting customers try on a pair of sneakers virtually before they make a purchase.

While AR facial recognition is already being used by retailers for things like letting shoppers virtually try on beauty products, this could be a first for ‘foot recognition’ technology. The app uses AR and computer learning to sense where the wearer’s foot is and projects a model of the sneaker onto their foot.

Why it’s hot: This not only helps customers find styles that match their preferences but also cuts costs for retailers with returns.

Source: PSFK

IKEA is dropping furniture like NIKE drops sneakers

IKEA seems to be taking a Nike approach to its sales and marketing by dropping limited editions into the market to see how a new generation of buyers reacts and the product sells. All items on display were also labeled ‘prototype’ and they were debuted through a livestream from a gallery in NYC and promoted via influencers.

IKEA followed up on the recently announced skateboard-lifestyle inspired line by Chris Stamp with a furniture collection by fashion designer Virgil Abloh. This is aimed Gen Z and Millennial adults moving into their first homes. To appeal to this audience, Abloh took classic pieces and gave them “subtle ironic twists.” As part of the collection, the designer created a glass cabinet with a wooden frame which stores goods but also acts as a showcase of those products.

Why it’s hot: From a brand that usually shows how their furniture items look in your home (from the layout of their store, to their AR app that you can literally see how they look in your home…) – it is an interesting approach to see them separate new items from in-situ and position them like limited-edition art pieces. It seems more like a stunt than a new Gen Z strategy, however I would be interested to see results from this tactic!

Source: PSFK

 

Robot Delivery Drivers take Silicon Valley

Starship Technologies, an autonomous delivery startup created in 2014 by two Skype co-founders, has been in public testing mode in 20 countries around the world since 2015. Now the company says it is ready for its first “major commercial rollout”.

Employees of company ‘Intuit’ in Mountain View, California, will be able to order breakfast, lunch and coffee from their staff cafeteria and have it delivered to any point in the company’s Silicon Valley campus by one of Starship’s six-wheeled autonomous robots.

“You place your order, it’s one click, then you drop a pin where you want the robot to meet you,” says Starship co-founder Janus Friis. “We’ve seen huge demand for breakfast. For some reason people just don’t want to wait – they want to go straight to work and avoid the queue in the early hours of the day.”

Starship is now on the lookout for other campuses across western Europe and the US where it can deploy the robots.

Why it’s hot: This is just another step towards the autonomous driving cars and Amazon drone-delivered packages – talk about a seamless customer experience!

Source: PSFK

Target Announces ‘Drive Up’ Service

Target announced that it will introduce drive-up service to hundreds of its stores in an attempt to make brick-and-mortar experience as convenient as online shopping. Customers place their order using the Target app and wait in a designated parking space outside of the store. Employees will then hand-deliver the purchases, which are available about two hours after the order is placed.

Stores near the company’s headquarters of Minneapolis adopted the service this past fall. They are not the only brick-and-mortar to try this  — about a year ago, Amazon opened two grocery stores with ‘curbside pickup’ in Seattle, and Walmart began testing an automated kiosk that allowed customers to place their order pull up to retrieve it. Even Walmart implementing their system for employees to drive you your groceries, or Amazon implementing their store with no check out line can fall under this category. By the end of the year, Target “hopes to implement the service in a thousand more stores across the country.”

Why it’s hot: While this isn’t necessarily new and hot, it is yet another example of brick and mortar trying to offer their customers seamless experiences.

Source: PSFK

AR Meets Greeting Card

For just under $6, you can give someone an augmented reality experience. Kineticards is building AR-enabled greeting cards that animate off of the page. The user must download the Kineticards app. Then they simply point the camera to the card, and the graphics start moving. The app maps the greeting card’s illustration and then replaces the static images with an animation. The AR dimension can also add interesting layers of information to the card. Gender reveal cards, for example, only show the word “boy” or “girl” once viewed through the app.

Why it’s hot: Although this is not anything new or completely unique, it is a simple and straightforward way to revamp greeting cards, and make them more interactive and personalized.

SourcePSFK

Shop for Leggings… While Hiking?

During SXSW, Outdoor Voices rolled out a new AR app, which encouraged festival-goers to break away from the craziness of the convention center and explore the hiking trails around Austin… and, use their app. The app is directed users to a park where they could then scan the ground and be rewarded with location-specific deals on apparel; the items were viewable in AR and users could see them in nature, explore them in detail, and even order using Apple Pay.

Why it’s hot: While some brands have started experimenting with AR games and scavenger hunts, Outdoor Voices takes an in interesting attempt to combine with commerce. Why it kind of defeats the purpose of ‘getting outdoors’ and ‘unplugging’, what better way to buy outdoor hiking clothes – while you’re doing that exact thing?

Source: PSFK

Bringing Stolen Art Pieces Back to Their Frames

Cuseum, a company focussed on implementing augmented reality to improve museum experiences, is working with the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. In March 1990, thieves broke into the museum and stole 13 pieces of art worth an estimated $500 million. Today, the works have still not been recovered.

This year, on the 28th anniversary of the heist, Cuseum decided to use augmented reality powered by Apple’s ARKit to digitally put the stolen paintings back into their frames. Visitors are now able to see the pieces exactly where they originally were in the museum.

The museum is also offering a $10 million reward for any information that aids in the return of the stolen works.

Why it’s hot: This is a simple way to combine digtial and traditional ways to experience a museum, and leveraging AR to (somewhat) bring these paintings “home”.

Source: PSFK

Spotify is testing a new voice search feature

Spotify is testing a voice search feature that lets users more quickly access their favorite artists, tracks, albums, and playlists. The feature, which appears based on a 2017 experiment involving a “driving mode,” has begun appearing inside the iOS app for a small number of users.

To access the new voice search feature, you tap the magnifying glass icon at the center of the bottom row of tabs. If you have it, you’ll see a microphone icon inside a white bubble in the lower-right hand corner of the screen.

So far, voice control appears limited to finding music inside inside Spotify’s vast catalog. Ask it “Who are the Beatles?” and it will start playing a Beatles playlist without telling you anything about the band.

Why it’s hot: This is a great step forward for navigation in app that has sometimes requires too much tapping and typing to get where you’re going.

Source: The Verge

McDonald’s Crops the Golden Arches to Direct You to the Closest Restaurant

McDonald’s and Canadian marketing company Cossette have teamed up to create the “Follow the Arches” campaign in Canada. The campaign features billboards with only portions of McDonald’s iconic golden arches logo that serve to point drivers in the direction of the nearest restaurant.

McDonald’s marketing supervisor Andrew Mumford comments on the universal recognizability of the McDonald’s brand: “The campaign is a playful example of how the arches are recognizable, even when the consumer only sees a portion of the logo.”

So far, the campaign includes just four billboards (three static and one digital) in high-traffic areas across downtown Toronto and the greater Toronto area. But Peter Ignazi, chief creative officer at Cossette, said the concept could eventually solve the problem of hundreds of differently designed directional posters in Canada—and around the world.

Why it’s hot: When thinking about playful ways to drive restaurant traffic – this is as simple as it gets! It is leveraging their huge amount of brand equity and universal recognizability of their logo in a clever way.

Source: AdWeek

Facebook rolls out job postings

On Wednesday, Facebook rolled out job posts to 40 more countries.

Businesses will be able to post job openings to a Jobs tab on their Page, Jobs dashboard, Facebook Marketplace, and the News Feed that they can promote with ads. Meanwhile, job seekers can discover openings, auto-fill applications with their Facebook profile information, edit and submit their application, and communicate via Messenger to schedule interviews.

“One in four people in the US have searched for or found a job using Facebook” writes Facebook’s VP of Local Alex Himel. “But 40% of US small businesses report that filling jobs was more difficult than they expected. We think Facebook can play a part in closing this gap.”

“The Job posts rollout could help Facebook steal some of the $1.1 billion in revenue LinkedIn earned for Microsoft in Q4 2017. But the bigger opportunity is developing a similar business where companies pay to promote their job openings and land hires, but for lower-skilled local companies in industries like retail and food service.”

Troy, the owner of Striper Sniper Tackle in North Carolina had trouble finding people with the specific skills he needed until he posted the job on his Facebook Page. He received 27 applications immediately, and hired 10 people” Facebook writes. 

Why it’s hot/warm:

Hot: Serving as a LinkedIn for blue collar jobs – benefiting both employers and those looking for jobs.

Warm: Users will likely be slower to adopt this since they might be reluctant to share their social profiles with employers.

Source: TechCrunch

Google Thinks The Future Of The Web Is Email + A Ghost Story

Google is taking the frustration out of ‘clicking out’ to a web page on accident through a new initiative called AMP for Email.

https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_webm,fl_lossy/wp-cms/uploads/sites/4/2018/02/1g-to-google-the-future-of-the-web-is-email.gif

“Instead of an email from Pinterest just kicking you to some in-app browser or an external app as soon as you tap one of its links, a new AMP-infused Pinterest email is the web. So you can pin to your heart’s content, right inside the email window. With AMP for Email, you never need to leave the message itself to browse web content.” Google is making this possible by letting email developers incorporate its Accelerated Mobile Pages standard, and for now, and Gmail is currently the only email client supporting this.

https://images.fastcompany.net/image/upload/w_596,c_limit,q_auto:best,f_webm,fl_lossy/wp-cms/uploads/sites/4/2018/02/2g-to-google-the-future-of-the-web-is-email.gif

“Instead of shuttling the user from an email to the web and back, email is simply becoming the web–a deep, browsable entity”

Why it’s hot: While it might seem minor, this has some strong implications for email CRM form both the user and the brand perspective. For the user, it is a more seamless experience with a branded email. For the brand, it encourages further brand engagement and less fear of ‘linking out’.

Source: Co.Design

BONUS:

PLUS……………….. I highly recommend reading this modern ghost story via twitter….. Is it real? I’ll let you decide. P.S It’s real.

“Also, being a Ghost Influencer is now a thing.” – Amanda Z.

Can This Silicon Valley Startup Bioengineer A Less Addictive Opioid?

In 2015, a synthetic biologist named Christina Smolke and her team of researchers at Stanford made a huge discovery. They proved that a genetically engineered yeast could produce opioid molecules, the core ingredients of some of the world’s most widely prescribed pain medicines.

Suddenly it seemed possible to mass-produce opioids in a whole new way–in bioreactors, with yeast. It raised the possibility of disrupting a drug industry that still relies mainly on materials from the poppy plant to make vital pain medicines.

Soon after this discovery, Smolke and her colleagues started a company named Antheia Inc.

They want to improve upon the ‘recipe’ for opioids to make them not just easier to produce, but less addictive and safer to use. While Antheia is: training the yeast to make opioid molecules more efficiently, it’s also developing the technology platform that manages the data needed to bioengineer the yeast.”

They believe that the same data tools and approaches they developed while creating opioid-making yeast can be used to engineer yeast that produces cancer drugs, or drugs for arthritis or Alzheimer’s. “[We’ll] develop the base platform, and get the base platform in place to a point where it’s ready to be commercialized,” Smolke says. “Then, that’s when we’d leverage that platform to go after these newer medicines.”

Not only is it more economically sound to make pain killers with yeast vs. poppy, but the most important implication is the possibility of “engineering the yeast to produce opioids with fewer side effects, including, potentially, addictiveness”. Down the road, it may be possible to “design” and mass-produce medicines with all the pain relieving qualities of today’s drugs but without the addictive properties that are killing so many people.

Why it’s hot: Although this is in the early stages, the implications that this discovery could bring to opioid addiction, as well as the genetic API market, could be promising.

Source: FastCo

Will Tweet for Pizza

Comedy Central is trying to alleviate you from corporate boredom by sending you free pizza. Also, to promote their new show: Corporate.

Last Wednesday, I received a group message hot tip from my buddy to tweet #CorporateLunch with the pizza emoji after 2 pm if I wanted free pizza. Being the carbohydrate enthusiast that I am, I didn’t ask any questions and promptly tweeted per the instructions.

I received a reply from Comedy Central immediately, giving me a link to input my email and work address. I followed instructions, and I was told my free pizza was on the way. Along with this fake company newsletter from the new ‘Corporate’ show that was airing that night. A character from the show assured me that this pizza was free from them, but that I would never escape my meaningless desk job. Oh yes, and not to forget to tune into their new show tonight at 10 pm.

A short 30 minutes later, I received not only a pizza, but an order of garlic knots! Later that night at around 9:45, I received a reminder email to tune into the show starting in 15 minutes. I have to say, I really enjoyed the pizza, and the show. Hats off, Comedy Central.

Why it’s hot: What a great way to increase word of mouth, social buzz, and awareness of a new show, while extending the brand voice far beyond words on a screen. This was a really smart tactic (nationwide!) to launch this new show. Plus, the pizza was straight up DELICIOUS.

Yeehaw! You can now draw objects for 3D printing

The Yeehaw Wand simplifies the design process for 3D printable objects by allowing anyone to create an object with a smartphone or tablet. The kit comes with a wand to draw with and plate that displays the object with a 360-degree view. The plate connects to the owner’s device where the virtual object appears.

The device shows objects on the user’s view of the real world, where they can be manipulated—for example, you can have a person model for a 3D printed necklace. The software was intended to feel open-ended for anyone to pick up the wand and sketch whatever comes to mind.

A finished design can transfer over to any 3D printer. If someone purchases the Yeehaw Wand without access to one, they can send their design to the kits’s developers who print and ship the finished product.

The Yeehaw Wand is raising funds in a Kickstarter campaign that concludes on January 14.

Why it’s hot: While the ‘pen’ or ‘wand’ does not look very intuitive or easy to use, this is an example of 3D printing and augmented reality becoming that much more accessible.

Source: PSFK

 

Spotify’s Wrapped feature is awesome

Spotify’s annual Wrapped feature is now up to give users insights into what they streamed over the past twelve months. Wrapped, which replaced Spotify’s personalized Year in Music feature last year, tells you the amount of time you spent streaming music in 2016 and how many songs and artists you listened to. Then it quizzes you to see how well you know your own listening habits before making a personalized playlist of 30 songs you might have missed this year. (check it out: 2017Wrapped.com)

Why it’s hot: Yet another way that Spotify is leveraging user data for audience engagement. This is a bit of a step up from their ‘year in review’ in-app experience, and they are providing an extra value add at the end. They are showing you 30 new songs that you might not know of yet, and proving how well they know you and your taste. Could they get any better?!

Bonus: Un-related, fun, Friday Instagram post that you never knew you needed. Enjoy.

This is my favorite thing I’ve ever read. Swipe left and tell me which dish you’d make. (@prozacmorris_)

A post shared by Sloane Steel (@iamsloanesteel) on

 

Spotify Back At It With OOH

Spotify has some suggestions for your New Years Resolutions.

They take the same out of home campaign approach as last year and turn user data into pithy headlines. This year’s approach is positioned as ‘2018 goals’, with the ads highlighting ‘winning’ behavior from 2017. Here are a few examples:

The campaign also includes life-size cutouts in NYC, LA and Miami that feature artists, in which passerby will be able to stick their heads for a photo.

Why it’s hot: This is another example of Spotify leveraging user data in a fun and unexpected way that capture the essence of their audience.

Source: Adweek

FDA Approves Smart Pills That Digitally Track When Patients Take Their Meds

Health devices have been getting smaller and more sophisticated for years now, and this week the FDA approved Abilify MyCite, the first pill that is able to record the exact time when a patient takes their medication via an ingestible sensor.

The pill, which is used for the treatment of schizophrenia and certain cases of bipolar disorder and depression in adults, works by sending a message from the pill’s sensor to a wearable patch, which then transmits the information to a smartphone app so that patients can automatically track when they’ve taken their medication.

This information can also be accessed by caregivers or physicians through an online portal with the permission of the patient, which could be especially helpful for those with a history of going off their medication. The only limitation appears to be with “real-time” tracking, as the pill’s packaging makes clear that there may be a delay between ingestion and when the information is sent to the app.

“Being able to track ingestion of medications prescribed for mental illness may be useful for some patients,” said Mitchell Mathis, M.D., director of the Division of Psychiatry Products in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, in a press release. “The FDA supports the development and use of new technology in prescription drugs and is committed to working with companies to understand how technology might benefit patients and prescribers.”

Why it’s hot: This is something we’ve all heard rumblings of, but it’s amazing to see this finally approved by the FDA. This could mean great things for medication adherence, patient-doctor conversations and relationships, and make care-giving a slightly easier task. I am curious to find out the correlation between use of this tech and increase in medication adherence.

Source: FDA & PSFK

 

KFC Takes ‘Surprise and Delight’ to a New Level

Twitter user Mike Edgette, a social media manager at TallGrass Public Relations in Sioux Falls, S.D., recently stumbled across a branded easter egg when he noticed KFC’s account followed only six men named Herb and five Spice Girls—aka 11 Herbs and Spices.

His unassuming tweet about the discovery, made about a month after the stunt was placed by agency Wieden + Kennedy, has since garnered to 322,000 retweets and 715,000 likes.

Twitter fame wasn’t the only reward in store for Edgette. This week, he announced (on Twitter) that he’d received a framed, custom painting depicting him piggyback riding Colonel Sanders in a majestic natural landscape:

(Artistic creations aren’t new for the brand, which also worked with W+K to publish a romance novel, complete with sleeveless, chiseled Harland Sanders, for Mother’s Day 2017.)

Why it’s hot: In the fast food landscape it is a common occurrence for brands to leverage social media accounts to extend their brand voice/personality and interact with fans. KFC takes this to a new level by not only hiding this easter egg within their ‘following’ section on Twitter, but painting a personalized mural for a Twitter follower really just blows the competition out of the water in terms of targeted messaging.

Source: Adweek

Zocdoc Gives The Health Insurance Card A Facelift

“Health insurance cards are a mess. Critical information presented in a way that’s not typically intuitive with poor visual hierarchy, abbreviations that don’t make sense, information that’s not clearly labeled, and text that’s too small to read. This leads to a poor experience further down the line with medical care.”

According to a recent survey sponsored by Zocdoc, over 25% of patients booking appointments with new doctors aren’t confident that they will be in-network, and 56% of people say they have a hard time figuring out what their insurance will cover.

ZocDoc took a stab at reducing some of these consumer anxieties through redesigning the health insurance card. Zocdoc worked with the design studio Office of Baby to create a simple card that anyone can download, and hopes insurance companies take advantage of the free design and adopt it officially.

Zocdoc and Office of Baby split the card into two parts: a section for professionals and a section for consumers. The professional section contains strings of numbers the medical community needs for billing–Rx numbers, issuer ID, etc.–and the consumer section includes info people need to book services–their plan’s name, what their co-pay is, their member ID–and speaks in plain English. The hope is this will help patients book the care they need with confidence that it’ll be covered by their insurer.

Why it’s hot: Awesome, simple solve for a frustrating and dated item/process, similar to how Warby re-invented the prescription renewal process – ZocDoc further proves that their platform puts their consumer first.

Source: CoDesign

Budweiser Takes it Back to Prohibition

“Anheuser-Bush InBev is reaching back nearly 100 years in hopes of giving its struggling Budweiser brand a boost. A limited-edition brew called 1933 Repeal Reserve Amber Lager hit shelves this week, claiming inspiration from a recipe used before Prohibition began in 1920.

Pre-prohibition style beers have been on the scene for years, made mostly by craft brewers. Anheuser-Busch, which was acquired by InBev in 2008, has been around since 1852, giving the brewer a link to recipes its founders once used. The new brew is based on an amber lager Adolphus Busch sold in the St. Louis area before Prohibition arrived in 1920. It has 6.1 percent alcohol versus 5 percent of regular Bud—and is described as having a “light, hoppy aroma and a rich caramel-malt taste.”

The marketing and packaging includes a shorter bottle known as a “stubby”, a partnership with Lyft, who on Wednesday offered New Yorkers rides in five Bud-branded cars in Manhattan meant to resemble 1930s-era vehicles. The special rides, available for sign up at Lyft’s website, will include tours of landmarks and neighborhoods with links to Prohibition. A TV ad by VaynerMedia shows the brew being poured in a modern-day speakeasy.

The limited run is timed to with the holidays and the Dec. 5 anniversary of the repeal of Prohibition, which came to an end on that date in 1933 when Utah became the 36th state to approve the 21st Amendment.

AB InBev is not the first big brewer to give Prohibition-themed marketing a try. MillerCoors in 2013 ran a Repeal Day campaign for its Batch 19 brand that was crafted from a pre-Prohibition recipe. But the brew was later discontinued. A MillerCoors spokeswoman said the brewer is “focusing on other priorities.”

Why it’s hot: This is a pretty cool activation by AB, however it seems slightly desperate/gimmicky to remain relevant in a category that they are struggling in.

Source: AW

Marriott + Slack = Thumbs Up

 

Marriott has introduced a new Slack extension that lets teams browse and book hotel rooms directly in their chats. There is even an emoji feature.

The user provides a city and dates, and the extension will serve up a handful of options. Everyone in the chat can then vote using Slack’s emoji reactions on which option they want. When the votes are in, you can book the winning hotel right within the slack chat.

The extension is limited to hotels affiliated with Marriott’s Rewards program, but the company promises the Slack tie-in will aways turn up the lowest possible rate.

“Marriott also has the distinction of being the first hotel chain to have a dedicated Slack experience, though the hotel chain has previously dabbled in messaging, with a bot for Facebook Messenger and an iMessage app.

The extension was was built by a company called Snaps, which also makes emoji apps for businesses (and Kim Kardashian, as it turns out), so it’s not surprising they’d bring an emoji component to Slack as well.”

Why it’s hot: This takes some of the pain out of booking hotels (especially for business travel through concur) and allows multiple parties to weigh into booking decisions. Additionally, this further positions Marriott as a leading hotel chain leveraging technology to make their guests lives easier (recently launched an AI chat bot for in-hotel experience).

Source: Mashable