“I’ll Be” The Greatest Grand Slam of your Life – Denny’s

If you were wondering what Edwin McCain, the singer-songwriter behind the soaring 1998 hit “I’ll Be,” is up to these days, here’s your answer. He’s right here, on your electronic device, singing a gag music video about chain diner Denny’s online delivery service.

In the 3:30 video, the soft-rock crooner strums a guitar, emotes and rolls around on giant blowups of tweets from the restaurant’s fans begging it to bring its food to their doorsteps. All the while, cheeky subtitles make it extra clear that the service, launched last May, is only available in select areas—because, you know, the U.S. is kind of big.

Highlights include the moment where McCain sits on a set of stairs, with a giant framed photo of his younger self in the background. He’s still much the same guy, though, managing to sound simultaneously heartbroken and euphoric … just this time about the fact that you can have pancakes and nachos at your place.

Part of a broader campaign celebrating 800,000 orders on the app, the video comes with its own site, youinspired.us, that offers to reward the Twitter users quoted therein with a Denny’s gift card. Any new users who sign up for a delivery or takeout account at the website or in-app will also get a free dish—a promotion supported by a :15 TV spot from EP+Co as well.

The McCain video is not, though, the first Twitter-inspired fast-food ’90s schmaltz act revival parody. In 2014, Wendy’s tapped Boys II Men to make sonic love to its Pretzel Bun. Presumably, that was enough of a success that Denny’s though it a blueprint worth following. (Wendy’s, for its part, has graduated to Twitter rap battles with Wingstop. And in slightly less related news about musical next-acts and comestibles, there’s always that 2015 Biz Markie dittyabout marshmallows-only Lucky Charms.)

Find the full McCain lyrics for Denny’s below, for your amusement, or horror—and for posterity, so nobody can ever pretend this didn’t actually happen.

For ten years, you’ve been dreaming
Tweeting us and scheming
Facebook post your friends all laughed at you

You all said the same thing
United in desire
You’ve inspired us to make your dreams come true

Denny’s delivers, Denny’s delivers
Denny’s delivers to you
Shout out all to your friends
With your mouth all full of food
Denny’s delivers to you

So tweet your dreams don’t be surprised
When they become true
Denny’s knows there’s nothing more than
sharing 800 pancakes with you

When the sun begins to set
Don’t give into your sorrows
Call the friend that’s always open
and join this guy for nachos

Denny’s delivers, Denny’s delivers
Denny’s delivers to you
Shout out all to your friends
With your mouth all full of food
Denny’s delivers to you

We’re going to bring the feast to your place
You just have to tell us where
You’ve been asking for delivery since I had my long hair

The world is new everything’s changed
You can order with a touch
You tweeted it and we agreed
Delivery is so clutch

Denny’s delivers, Denny’s delivers
Denny’s delivers to you
Shout out all to your friends
With your mouth all full of food
Denny’s delivers to you

With posts from every place
Even got a message on MySpace
Denny’s delivers to you

Source: AdWeek

Why it’s hot:

  • In the social space, Denny’s has made a name for themselves by being the quirky or “out there” personality that goes where no other brand dares to go (except Moon Pie). By choosing to promote their delivery service through a one-hit-wonder of the 1990’s is something so far-fetched that it shows unique ways to reach social audiences and create buzz still exist.

Facebook wants newsfeed to be more ‘meaningful’

Facebook really, really wants your experience to be “meaningful.” In a recent blog post, Facebook researchers announced changes to the algorithm that controls its newsfeed that will put greater emphasis on content from friends and family, and give more weight to posts that encourage users to interact and comment.

This change is so “meaningful” that the word “meaningful” appears seven times in the blog post!

“We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness,” Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post. “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content – posts from businesses, brands and media – is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other. Based on this, we’re making a major change to how we build Facebook. I’m changing the goal I give our product teams from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions.”

Facebook wants your experience to be less about how long you spend on the site, and more about what you do while you’re there. Comments are more important than likes, and posts with longer comments will get more weight than those with shorter ones. Shares of videos will also matter more than a video’s overall popularity.

Why its hot

These changes are going to have a big impact on how news surfaces in your newsfeed. If users aren’t sharing and engaging with a news story, it’s less likely to spread organically. But opinion pieces that usually generate more debate in the comments section will have a better chance of being seen. And Facebook has always put the emphasis on engagement with posts to determine how content surfaces.

Facebook is constantly making changes to its algorithm to “improve” the experience you have on the site, but in the end Facebook’s business depends on turning your attention into dollars. Sure, organic reach is going way down, and publishers are always trying to keep up with changes to Facebook’s performance, but money will always cut through all the changes.

New Digital Scale Won’t Tell You How Much You Weigh

Shapa is a new digital scale created by behavioral scientist Dan Ariely, a professor of behavioral economics at Duke University and author of many books including PREDICTABLY IRRATIONAL and THE (HONEST) TRUTH ABOUT DISHONESTY. His work looks into how humans make decisions, and the role of rationality – or irrationality – in our daily lives. He’s recently he’s turned his work to the decisions we make around health, and Shapa is one result of his work.

Shapa is unique in many ways, but the most obvious one is that it doesn’t have a screen and it won’t tell you how much you weigh. (Yep, a scale that doesn’t display weight.) This is a deliberate choice in today’s world of hypertracking. We have so many technologies at our fingertips that can track a million things about our bodies – from steps walked, flights of stairs climbed, hours slept, to muscle mass, water percentage, bone density, etc. And companies like Fitbit and Garmin even have smart scales, designed to work with their own wearables. Basically, more than ever, tech has enabled humans to create an entire ecosystem of data-driven knowledge about our own bodies.

The problem, Ariely says, is that the actual story of our health gets lost in these data points. “By giving people more granularity,” he says, “we’re making information less useful.” That’s especially true of weight, which can fluctuate as much as three pounds throughout the day. Watching the scale go up and down in normal, healthy patterns and scrutinizing it to a tenth of a pound tells us nothing about overall health.

Enter Shapa. With Shapa, the scale works in tandem with an app, so though the app is indeed recording your weight, it never tells you what that is. Instead, it displays a color, depending on if you’re underweight, about right or overweight, but nothing more specific. The app also sends you on goals and missions: things like tidy your bedroom, write a goal and affix it on your fridge, set an alarm on your phone to get up every two hours, walk to the gym, etc. Through these tasks and goals, the Shapa app is training you into better habits, and it’s also recording which habits are resulting in you making healthier decisions (as reflected in weight trends).

Why It’s Hot: This product, and the theory behind it, is taking the concept of the monitored human (and all the assorted tech developments) and turning it on its head. Is less information actually better when it comes to tracking your health? How can these psychology principles be applied to other health tracking fields?

Read More: Engadget | Wired

Pee on Ikea’s ad for a discount

Ikea’s new print ad prompts users to pee on the ad. If they are pregnant, a new price appears giving them 50% off on a new crib. To redeem this deal people still need to sign up for the Ikea family discount.

Why it’s hot: This is a small example of a fun way Ikea is connecting their ads to the life events of their users. They have taken an advancement in the tech of pregnancy tests and integrated into their ads. This ad presumes that all new parents have a pregnant woman as part of the relationship, which isn’t the case. However, we often design with a particular user in mind, so is it okay to exclude or not target certain user groups? Where do we draw the line between a fun gimmicky ad and a statement about parenthood?

Source

Giant Exoskeleton Racing League

Furrion, a company that normally makes high-end appliances, created a mech called Prosthesis to start a new kind of racing league.

“The Prosthesis is an exoskeleton that weighs 8,000 pounds, has a top speed of 20 mph, and the company says the battery can power the mech for an hour. This isn’t a robot. It’s an exoskeleton that requires a driver.”

– TechCrunch

Here’s their video promoting it:

Such hype! So what do the people of YouTube think?

Good points. It seems like it really wouldn’t be that exciting to watch people race in slow moving machines that are all built the same way. I looked around a bit and found this video that shows how it’s controlled. Seems like there would be some skill required to actually get it to move the right way.

So yeah, I guess it could be exciting to watch people struggle to control this heavy slow machine. It doesn’t say when the first race will be but I’ll for sure tune in for it.

Facebook’s Latest Changes

Facebook recently announced a new round of changes to the personal feed experience. As part of a broader initiative that included an update to the company’s mission statement, Facebook is in the process of implementing updates with the goal of making connections on the platform feel more meaningful and personal to users. Mark Zuckerberg has openly said it may lead to people spending less time on the platform, with the hope that the time people do spend there will be of higher quality.

“By making these changes, I expect the time people spend on Facebook and some measures of engagement will go down,” Zuckerberg wrote. “But I also expect the time you do spend on Facebook will be more valuable. And if we do the right thing, I believe that will be good for our community and our business over the long term too.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-12/facebook-ceo-unveils-news-feed-changes-says-engagement-may-fall

It was a simpler time.

Why it’s hot: Facebook has promised the changes will not affect advertisers who pay to ensure their content is seen (a strategy adopted by MRM well ahead of this latest announcement), but it’s hard to believe that we won’t see some impact on engagement with branded content if users are spending overall less time on the network.Facebook should by no means be discounted from a multi-channel strategy, but now is a good time to review how you’re thinking about the platform. Facebook has taken many steps post-election to mitigate the proliferation of “fake news” and engagement-baiting content, so brands who have not been actively following and responding to the developments will need to re-assess their content strategies and course correct for the platform by adjusting cadence, promotional strategy, and creative.

 

OkCupid Redefines ‘DTF’

OkCupid is DTF, but not like that.

The dating site rethinks that blunt old acronym, originally meaning “down to fuck,” by making it the centerpiece of a new campaign from Wieden + Kennedy New York—with the F word replaced by dozens of enlightened alternatives, leading to phrases like “down to feel fabulous,” “down to forget our baggage” and “down to fight about the president.”

The point being: Dating can and should be about more than hookups. The tagline is, “Dating deserves better.”

The headlines are matched with fun, brightly colored photographs. Several of the ads also have a political message, adding to the already provocative use of “DTF” as a theme. It’s a highly artistic campaign, too—W+K worked with artist Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, the creators of Toilet Paper magazine, on the ads.

The campaign marks the latest attack on dating culture, which has come to seem dehumanized in the binary, swipe-left-or-right age of Tinder. (Other dating apps, including Hinge, have also based recent ads around fostering deeper connections between users.)

OkCupid CMO Melissa Hobley tells AdFreak that the new campaign signals the brand’s commitment to being focused on substance and depth, while also reflecting the issues and passions that people care about.

“In the current political and social climate, we felt a responsibility and saw an opportunity to play a part in changing the conversation about dating culture and empowering each individual to reclaim the meaning of DTF and make it theirs,” she says.

OkCupid aims to achieve substance and depth through the app’s features. It asks users more than a dozen questions while setting up a profile and recently launched OkCupid Discovery, which lets users search by passions and interests. It aims to achieve relevance through the brand voice, having found traction by leaning into politics over the past year—including adding a “Trump Filter” to its list of questions.

“The response to this blew us away, and most importantly, signaled how important it was for people to be able to talk politics in dating,” Hobley says. “We do this better than anyone, and regularly add political questions into the OkCupid experience.”

Source: Adweek

Why it’s hot: 

  • In a world of political correctness, choosing to push the limits with a risque campaign is a risk for a brand looking to win over more users. However, in a sea of competitors like Tinder that are pushing they envelope it is a risk worth taking in order to stand out.

Life, liberty and the pruisuit of sassiness

We’ll Wendy’s held their National Roast Day on Twitter yesterday and it was magic. They are a brand that knows their audience and they got a lot of people involved as well as some verified friends. The engagements they hot on each post to just random people is insane, some north of 30k likes.

Why its hot?

  • Wendy’s hasn’t messed up even though they’re trying to hit below the belt with their fans
  • Their posts are calculated, they know the risk but it seems like they do a good job getting rid of the tweets that are a little too risky
  • They’re getting other Verified accounts involved and it makes me wonder, are they reaching out to brand spreading the word? Or is it voluntary…

And if you’re wondering, no, i did not ask to be roasted but its something I’ll regret until next year.

Could genetic testing help thwart the opioid crisis?

Why some people become addicted to oopiods and some do not has become somewhat of a mystery in the medical community. But the story is familiar; patient gets prescribed an opioid pain killer, and by the end of their course of treatment, they have developed a dependency (knowingly or not). But what if a genetic test could signal whether a person is more likely to develop an addiction, and therefore at higher risk from the moment they enter the doctor’s office?

That’s exactly what the medical analytics company Prescient Medicine has set out to do with their LifeKit Test- a genetic test that determines within 97% sensitivity how addictive your genetic response to opioids will be. Using an algorithm they developed based on genes that signal addiction in neural pathways, they give each test subject a score out of 100, with anything 52 or higher showing an elevated risk of addiction.

WHY IT’S HOT

Perhaps LifeKit and advancements in genetic testing could be the preventative measure needed to stop this national health crisis, and even aid with substance abuse of all kinds. As genetic testing becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, it may arm doctors with the knowledge to offer alternatives that could saves millions of lives.

SOURCE: https://www.fastcompany.com/40513391/is-genetic-testing-part-of-the-solution-to-the-opioid-crisis

Explore the largest early map of the world

Drawn by hand in 1587 by Italian cartographer Urbano Monte, the above map is the largest known early map on the world, now digitized for the first time at the David Rumsey Historical Map Collection at Stanford University.

This is the first time anyone can see the map as a single unit, as Monte intended 430 years ago. It is available for viewing using AR Globe, an iOS augmented reality app, or via download in Google Earth.

Rumsey told Fast Co. Design, “the 60-plus sheets “were digitally assembled by Brandon Rumsey using Photoshop” totally by hand, without having to use distortion or custom programming, just “alignment of layers and edges” tools.”

The map uses azimuthal equidistant projection, a circular projection of Earth from the North Pole, which Monte believed shows the world more accurately by showing a three-dimensional sphere as a two-dimensional surface.

Why its hot

My favorite thing about technology isn’t the new things it can create, but the old things it can preserve. This incredible piece of history is now available to just about anyone, anywhere in the world, right on their mobile phone. Technology has increased access to history, which I think gives us lessons that will inform our future.

Justin O’Beirne on Google Maps Moat

Justin O’Bierne, a cartographer from San Francisco, has a great article about the huge distance between Google Maps, and Apple Maps. Mr. O’Beirne writes a lot about maps, especially online maps. His most recent article centers around buildings. Namely, how is it possible that Google has so many buildings on their maps, even in very small towns?

Gif by Justin O’Beirne

This is something that Google has been adding in the last few years. Mr. O’Beirne notes that Google isn’t just adding addressed places, but they’re adding garages and other structures as well.

Gif by Justin O’Beirne

Not only are they doing that, their buildings are highly detailed..

Image by Justin O’Beirne

He goes on to examine a full range of buildings across the US, that show up as highly detailed models in Google Maps. He also shows that Apple and Bing have nothing even close to this imagery, so what’s going on? How are they doing it?

The answer lay in an old press release, dug up by Mr. O’Beirne. The models are coming from computer vision analysis of Google Earth satellite imagery. So, as summed up in a gif:

Gid by Justin O’Beirne

Not only is Google doing this, but it’s doing it FAST, and much faster than it’s competitors. As Mr. O’Beirne notes:

Just two years after it started adding them, Google already had the majority of buildings in the U.S. And now after five years, it has my rural hometown—an area it still hasn’t Street View’d (after 10+ years of Street View).

Graph by Justin O’Beirne

Finally, Google has also introduced another feature into Maps: Areas of Interest. Area’s of Interest are known by another name is academic research: Commercial Corridors. They’re typically defined by locations with densely packed shops and restaurants. This may seem simple, but it presents a problem to Google: how do you display all of those places on a map without the place names overlapping? If you can’t show all of the businesses, which businesses get picked? How will the user know, at a glance, which areas of the city are areas of interest?

As you can see in this screenshot of my neighborhood, Google has solved this by creating areas of lightly shaded orange.

Not a fancy gif

Justin O’Beirne notes that these areas are not smoothly defined, they seem to be form by conglomerations of actual buildings, and when you zoom in, Google is actually locating where physically the businesses sit in each building.

Also not fance

So how do they do THAT?

Well, this post is very long now so I’ll just show you a couple more gifs that Mr. O’Beirne made:

As Mr. O’Beirne notes:

…so this makes AOIs a byproduct of byproducts:

To sum up: Google made a map of the entire Earth available on Google Maps, and then used computer vision to create detailed models of precisely located buildings. It also sent a car with a camera around the world to all the road’s that it could to give street view imagery, and then analyzed that information for signs and other details. It then combined all of that information to create precisely detailed, located buildings with precisely accurate location information for businesses and areas of interest in cities. As Mr. O’Beirne notes, Google is making data out of data.

And that’s why Google is so far ahead.

Germany is Taking Hate Speech Online to Task

As of 1/1 Germany’s new anti-hate-speech law has come into effect. The new law promises fines of up to 50 million euros ($60 million, £44 million) for non compliance.

The law requires social networks to remove hate speech in under 24 hours from when it’s flagged by a user. Networks are given one week to deal with less clear cases.

Hate speech has seen a recent up tick online. YouTube stars accused of anti-Semitism; Trumps tweets against immigrants and Muslims.

Why it’s hot?

The real question is whether this has a positive effect on the rest of the internet.  With geolocation, it’s possible to keep the hate speech ban specific to Germany and German citizens. Depending on how tight the laws were written….the rest of us just might be in luck….

Also, fun fact. There’s a word in german for this kind of speech Volksverhetzung, in English “incitement of the masses”, “instigation of the people”

Samsung debuts smart glasses for people with vision impairments

Samsung announced this week that they will be debuting Relúmĭno, a VR-based smartphone app for people with vision impairments, at CES 2018. Relúmĭno is a product of their C-Lab (Creative Lab) program.

Jeonghun Cho, one of the C-Lab creators of Relúmĭno, said he was inspired to create these glasses after learning that only 14% of people with visual impairments are totally blind, and the remaining 86% of people have low vision and are typically able to distinguish between light and dark. He wanted to find a way to use technology to improve their residual vision, and from that goal, the Relúmĭno glasses were born.

One of the most significant aspects of these glasses is their price. Many products that improve visual perception are very expensive, so the Relúmĭno is significant in that it’s much more accessible from a price standpoint. Samsung achieved this by harnessing the power of the user’s smartphones and VR technology, so the only additional components that users need beyond a Samsung smartphone is a VR headset.

This product is still in its early stages, and their next hurdle will be completing a version of Relúmĭno that is fully housed within regular sunglasses, rather than the VR headset. This would make the product much more mobile, and would work better in outdoor conditions.

Why It’s Hot: Another incredible example of existing technology being used to bring life-changing quality of life improvements to people who really need it. What other significant medical problems can be solved with the tech we use every day?

Read more: Ars Technica | Samsung

Amazon’s Alexa may eventually serve up ads…maybe, maybe not?

It was only a matter of time, folks.

According to a report from CNBC, Amazon is in talks with brands and advertisers to include ads on the Echo through via Alexa. The report says that Amazon is discussing these opportunities with Procter & Gamble and Clorox.

Just as ads found their way to the newspaper, the radio, the television, the internet, and even to our inbox and inside our apps, it only makes sense for advertisers to follow us to the next frontier of voice-powered AI.

There are two obvious paths to potentially advertising on Alexa.

The first is to let brands pay for placement when users are shopping through Alexa. For example, Proctor & Gamble could pay for Bounty to be the first brand recommended when a user asks for Alexa to purchase paper towels. Of course, these ads could be ultra-smart given the data Amazon already has about each individual user’s buying history.

The second channel for advertising could come via Alexa Skills. For example, a skill that tells users movie showtimes could suggest buying tickets through Fandango.

Paid search ads via voice could be much more effective than the paid search ads you see on the web, as with Google. On the web, many have grown numb to ad search results and can easily scroll past them to real search results. On a voice platform, it takes far more work to ‘scroll past’ the first result presented. Plus, depending on how Amazon presents paid results, it may be more difficult to decipher paid results from actual results.

Amazon, however, responded to CNBC saying that “the company has no plans to add advertisements to Alexa.” Obviously, this is just a rumor at the moment but it would be far from shocking if ads hit the Alexa platform. An Amazon spokesperson responded to request for comment with the same quote they gave CNBC: “There are no plan to add advertising to Alexa.”

Source: TechCrunch

Why It’s Hot

Regardless of whether this is real news now or not, it’s still interesting to consider and potentially inevitable. Brands are bound to want in on this expanding space — can the Amazons and Google’s of the world hold them back? Should they?

Parenting Hero, an illustrated app for talking to your kids

Parenting Hero is an iOS app that presents new parents with role-playing scenarios that guide the user through responses to common parenting challenges. The idea is that parents often forget the advice of parenting books in the moment, especially when their child is headed towards a tantrum. The app is illustrated with 1,500 hand-drawn panels illustrated by Katarzyna Struczynska.

The designers observed that parents have so little time nowardays, and it might be better for them to retain information in an interactive app than reading through dozens of parenting books. The designers believe there are two main benefits of getting the app over the book the app is based on: 1) parents can familiarize themselves with parenting advice quickly; 2) it serves as a quick reminder about the book’s tenets when faced with conflict. Parents can even print out cards with tips when they complete a scenario in the app. The team hopes to incorporate feedback from parents who use the app to craft new scenarios in upcoming versions.

 

Holy contextual bandits batman!

Netflix is at it again – schooling us all on what personal really means.

For a long time, Netflix has been perfecting personal recommendations on what to watch. Now it’s delivering a new feature to enhance how it makes those recommendations – personalized artwork.

Netflix

So OK, that’s cool enough thinking about the thousands of titles, millions of users and all the potential key art variations needed to meaningfully personalize content. But what’s equally cool is their approach to measuring the performance of recommendations. It’s basically impossible to control for all the variables behind personalized artwork to understand what works best. So Netflix employed a methodology called Contextual Bandits.

Netflix

You’re going to have to read the blog post to really understand it (and then explain it to me!) but here goes: contextual bandits are a class of online learning algorithms that trade off the cost of gathering training data required for learning an unbiased model on an ongoing basis with the benefits of applying the learned model to each member context. In other words, rather than waiting to collect a full batch of data, waiting to learn a model, and then waiting for an A/B test to conclude, contextual bandits rapidly figure out the optimal personalized artwork selection for a title for each member and context.

Anyway, it’s all pretty fascinating. And you can read more about it on the Netflix tech blog.

Why It’s Hot
Netflix takes the idea of dynamic creative to a whole new level, continuing to set the bar for 1-to-1 marketing.

Fender Just Eliminated the Need For Pedals and Stomp Boxes

The worst thing about being in a band is waiting for the guitarist to set up and adjust—and re-adjust, and then re-re-adjust—his collection of effects boxes and pedals. But it seems the biggest name in guitars is out to fix that. The Fender Tone app for iOS and Android manages thousands of pre-set guitar effects and delivers them via Bluetooth or WiFi to Fender’s new line of Mustang GT guitar amps.

Why It’s Hot:

Similar to other consumer technologies, Fender has built the amp so that it does not get outdated. Fender has built around an ARM computer processor system, and can use Bluetooth and wifi to send updates in the form of presets, hardware tweaks, and features whenever Fender has updates. The amp will continuously update as other sounds, new amps, and features roll-out through Fender’s offering creating a one size fits all system.

“If we release a new amp, we can do a simulation of it on this amp,” Kaplan said. The Mustang models come in three sizes, ranging from a small $250 tabletop practice amp, up to a $600 model that can fill a venue with sound. In testing out the Mustang, Kaplan said the team created simulations that the average player would be “hard pressed to tell apart” from the amps they were copying the tone of.

Earthquake Warning App

QuakeAlert is an app currently in beta testing that sends push notifications to users for impending earthquakes. For a 4.4 Earthquake yesterday in the Bay Area it alerted two beta-testers at the University of Berkeley 2 and 5 seconds before feeling the quake. Another beta-tester in Sacramento received a notification 27 seconds before they felt tremors in their location. In addition to sending text alerts it can trigger safety measures for infrastructure such as stopping trains, sending elevators to the nearest door and keeping the doors open, de-pressurize gas lines, and de-energize electric lines.

Why it’s Hot: Other countries such as Japan and Mexico already make use of advanced warning systems (texts and sirens) to alert people about impending quakes. The US has no current system to do so, which can in turn help save lives and infrastructure. This also seems like a good way to integrate people checking in after an earthquake to let friends and family know they are safe. As with all technology, this also means there are way to hack these systems and cause panic throughout the population.

Amazon’s New Patent Could Change Online Shopping

After introducing Prime Wardrobe last year, it’s clear that Amazon isn’t quite done combining fashion and technology.

According to Geekwire, Amazon’s “Blended Reality Systems and Methods” patent was published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on January 2. It mixes cameras, displays, and projectors to create the futuristic device that blends real images with CGI.

In simpler terms, Amazon has created the potential for a smart mirror that uses blended technology to give customers the ability to try on digital clothes in a variety of different digital settings without leaving home. If you’ve ever wanted to know how your dress will look on the beach, you could be in luck – if the mirror ever becomes a real product.

At least a portion of this technology comes from Amazon’s acquisition of startup Body Labs last year. The company boasts AI, computer vision, and body modeling expertise, and aims to create true-to-life 3D body models to support various b2b software applications.

Why it’s hot:

This technology obviously has the potential to transform how customers shop for clothing. A smart mirror could provide a more seamless solution for one of the significant drawbacks to online shopping: the inability to know how something will look on you before you buy it (and the inevitable online return and exchange nightmare). In fact, this technology takes that solution a step further by providing a service that physical retail stores just can’t provide: the ability to see how your clothing will look in the setting in which you plan to wear it. This technology also speaks to the climate of immediate gratification that goes hand in hand with the digital space; instead of waiting for an item to arrive at your home (even with 2-day Prime shipping) so that you can try it on, you can try it on as quickly as you can pick it out (which might not be good for our wallets).

Source: https://www.techspot.com/news/72580-amazon-blended-reality-mirror-mixes-virtual-clothes-digital.html

Embrace Melancholy

Brands are always trying to find positionings that would essentially make our lives better:

Chocolate brands make you feel happier.
Car brands make you feel powerful or aggressive.
Technology brands make you feel connected.
Beauty brands make you feel better about yourself.
Spirit brands make you feel inspired.
But how does a raincoat brand should make you feel?
Stutterheim is a Swedish brand that makes rubbery and –  like almost every Scandinavian brand – super stylish raincoats. Their products are beautiful, they have genderless collections, their stores are minimalistic and on top of that, their positioning is about embracing melancholy.
Why Melancholy? Because that’s the state of mind that we find our selves during a rainy day and since they come from Sweden, rain is part of their culture.
They could have created a singing-in-the-rain kind of positioning ( I bet It crossed everybody’s mind to go that way). But they decided to face melancholy and explore this mood across their communications, including their blog, where they interview artists from all over the world and explore the how melancholy is an important part of their creative process.
Image result for stutterheim melancholy
Why it’s hot?
In a world that celebrates and dictates that we should all be happy, all the time – It’s bold to find a brand that feels comfortable about discussing a ” negative” emotion.
Sometimes as marketers we tend to refute bad things, make fun of our weakness and avoid discussing them with clients – but maybe this can be a good source of inspiration.

Part of this years Cards Against Humanity event: wealth redistribution

Cards Against Humanity has a history of satirical Black Friday promotions. In 2013 they held an “anti-sale” and raised the price by $5. In 2014 they held a “bullshit” sale where their products were removed from their website and replaced by boxes of sterilized bull feces. In 2015 they replaced their online site with a message urging viewers to give Cards Against Humanity $5 and receive nothing in return. The money was divided among Cards Against Humanity team members, and then a site was put up showing what they purchased with the money. In 2016, they asked for money to dig a big hole for no reason, and raised $100,000.They dug a big hole and then they filled it back in again.

This year, the creators announced a campaign called Cards Against Humanity Saves America, in protest of the Trump Administrations. The creators purchased a plot of land along the US-Mexican border to block the creation of a border wall. A $15 donation to the campaign would receive “six surprises” through December.

The first surprise is radical wealth redistribution.

When customers signed up for Cards Against Humanity Saves America they filled out a questionnaire with “with a mix of demographic questions and red herrings”. The team then ranked the respondents. Out of roughly 150,000 people that signed up, 140,000 got nothing, 10,000 got a full refund, and 100 received a check for $1,000.

You can read about the recipients, and more information, here: https://cardsagainsthumanityredistributesyourwealth.com/.

Why it’s hot

While Cards Against Humanity has found it’s share of detractors since blowing up (including the New York Times), it’s clear that they are masters of off beat self promotion.

Google’s Moving Year in Search Video Shows How We Got Through the Hell of 2017

The search giant’s recap of 2017 includes footage of wildfires, hurricanes, gun violence, threats of nuclear war, protests and so much more—pretty much 2017 in a nutshell. Yet, Google managed to make all this uplifting.

Using Harry Styles’ “Sign of the Times,” Google’s video shows the perseverance of the human spirit and may even inspire you to make a difference for the people still reeling from the various tragedies we’ve seen this year. It also manages to provide comfort with a “you’re not alone” vibe, reminding you that others are feeling that sense of powerlessness and existential dread, too—and that if we come together, we can let those feelings drive us to change the world.

Google also gathered some of the year’s top searches, and some of them are a real punch to the gut. see more here

Source: AdWeek

Why It’s Hot

Search data provides deep insight into how we operate as a culture.

 

Mastercard Demystified Millennials

Millennials seem to be the toughest demographic to crack, as they’re viewed as narcissistic, entitled, superficial, and several more descriptive adjectives. So Mastercard Australia made it their mission to understand what millennials really wanted from their new debit rewards program. The “Millennials Demystified” experiment was conducted by researchers at the University of South Wales and the purpose was simple, to find out what millennials really desire. Participants of the study were given 2 choices in which they had to choose which one they desired the most, the catch was that their neurological impulses let the researchers know exactly what they truly desired out of the two choices. The results? Simple. Millennials are human after all and they want to do more good than harm the world, contrary to what seems to be common belief.

Why it’s hot:
Turns out millennials aren’t soulless zombies that want to watch the world burn.

Mastercard AU

Making cereal cool again

Kellogg’s cereal cafe recently re-opened at Union Square in a space five times larger than its original location in Times Square. This is Kellogg’s attempt to stem sales decline by making millennials eat cereal as all-day snacks.

The cafe is operated by two famous restauranteurs, Sandra Di Capua from Eleven Madison Park and Anthony Rudolf from Per Se.

Why it’s hot: Leveraging food’s social status to make everyday mundane cool.

Source: Eater

Snapchat and Coach Debuted Snapcodes Embedded Into Holiday Pins

Forget about camera-equipped sunglasses—Snapchat and Coach are hoping to make Snapcodes en vogue.

Today, the companies announced they’ve partnered to create a limited-edition set of Coach pins equipped with Snapcodes. The pins mark the first time a brand has created a product with the technology embedded in it.

The pins, which will be available online and at 20 Coach locations across the U.S. throughout the holiday season, feature Coach’s holiday mascots—a unicorn, a dinosaur and a shark—inside an outline of Snapchat’s iconic ghost. To win a pin, Coach customers just have to take a free online or in-store quiz about their favorite mascot. According to Snap, users can scan the pins to play an arcade game based on Coach’s holiday video campaign.

“The pins are all about creativity and individuality,” Marni Schapiro, Snap’s director of retail, said in a statement. “They’re fun, playful and allow our community a way to Snap the virtual onto reality.”

The quiz will also be featured in some Snap ads from Coach running throughout the season and can unlock campaign-themed Snapchat filters.

While it’s the first time Snapchat has created a customized accessory with Snapcodes, Snap has experimented with fashion products before. Last year, the company unveiled Spectacles, and while they garnered a lot of hype, they failed to catch on with everyday consumers. While the company reported $5.4 million in “other” revenue (primarily from Spectacles), it also reported a $40 million write-down in the third quarter from unsold specs.

However, the pins could help Coach in another area that Snap’s been touting lately—in-store visits. According to a Nielsen Buyer Insights study commissioned by Snap, Snapchatting households spend 39 percent more at retail stores than the national average. The results, which analyzed a year of debit and credit transactions with retailers, found that Snapchat users are more likely than others to try new products. The study also reported that more than two in five remember using the app before, during or after shopping, and a quarter of users said they’ve looked for Snapchat filters while shopping.

Luxury brands have traditionally been slower to adopt emerging technologies than other industries; Coach has been gradually experimenting. For 2016’s New York Fashion Week, the brand offered up its runway show in VR. Earlier this year, the company partnered with IMG, Simon Malls and Facebook to create a virtual reality experience at 20 Coach locations within Simon Malls.

Why it’s hot: Taking something so digital as a Snapcode into the physical world of retail is a risk on all accounts. However, this campaign will allow the digital persona and the real-life experience to meet and sing together in perfect harmony. I believe this is only the beginning of brands utilizing Snapcodes in the real world (as long as Snapchat continues to stay strong in its user base).

ESPN Goes All-In On Fantasy

ESPN Fantasy sports app is driving a massive chunk of the network’s digital traffic, and Disney executives are looking to replicate that success for other networks.

  • ESPN Fantasy produces more log-in events than any other application in the Walt Disney company.
  • On NFL Sundays, ESPN Fantasy accounts for 53% of all minutes consumed across ESPN Digital platforms.
  • To date, Fantasy has engaged more 20 million unique users in 2017. The network gets roughly 90-100 million combined monthly uniques on average, per comScore.

The success of ESPN Fantasy has the attention of ABC executives. Last year, Disney launched a fantasy league game for ABC’s “Bachelorette” to help broaden the Fantasy reach to women and found enormous success. The two Bachelorette Fantasy League games were played by more than 700,000 users, 75% of whom were women.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why It’s Hot:

ESPN and its parent company, Disney, are experimenting with online offerings that go beyond traditional TV content. They are beginning to see the value in providing additional services that pair well with their owned televised content and their partners content (ABC, NFL, NBA, MLB, etc), both of which will drive people online capturing attention on TV, mobile, and possibly future subscription products.

Your Ad on the Moon

 

 

 

A Japanese spaceflight company called Ispace plans to fund future missions to the moon by selling ad space to brands looking to literally leave their mark in space.

Ispace hopes to finance a manned mission to the moon by 2020 and it will be branded like crazy, according to Bloomberg. The company was started through Google’s Lunar Xprize, a competition that will award $20 million to whoever can land and drive a spacecraft on the moon’s surface. It’s worth noting that the target date for the program’s first mission was 2012.

Why its hot

Which brands could you see being first to jump at a chance to put their name on the moon?

Private space flight has become the big thing in tech thanks to companies like SpaceX. Funding will be crucial to keeping missions going, so perhaps there is a “space” for brands to get in on the fun.

Everywhere is a Touch Screen

Future Lab, an innovation division of Sony released Xperia Touch, has developed an interactive projector that takes on motions familiar to mobile touchscreen devices. It uses infrared lights and cameras to detect interaction. As described by the company, they are positioning the Xperia Touch as “a consumer device that can be used for gaming, education, online video streaming and communication.”

Why It’s Hot: This is another example of bringing digital interfaces into physical space. The applications of this device are very broad and captures the natural ways people have learned to interact on touch screens, and adapt them to the surrounding environment. There will certainly be new interaction patterns that develop from this type of experience.

Source

Hims is the Goop dudes have been waiting for

At the convergence of the years’ many trends– Wellness, Millennial Pink, and Living Your Best Life, lies a new company– Hims– that has garnered outsize attention for being “basically, Glossier for men.” The company, whose mission states: “Create an open and empowered male culture that results in more proactivity around health and preventative self-care” is peddling beautifully packaged and wittily marketed generics of Rogaine and Cialis to educated men who live in urban areas and earn an average of $90k.

The brand’s founder seeks to “break the ice” surrounding typically uncomfortable health and wellness issues for men– hair-loss and ED being the first– in a progression emblematic of Silicon Valley’s preoccupation with science-based lifestyle decisions (see: exercise trackers, DNA-based meal plans and anti-aging nutraceuticals). Hims simply outlines its product offering into Hair, Skin, Sex, and Merch.

 

WHY IT’S HOT:

The Ringer’s profile of Hims notes that: “As the mind-and-body market has grown over the past decade, entrepreneurs have found a way to repackage classic dieting, beauty, and health products for a generation of laptop-toting millennials. More specifically, they have frequently borrowed from the world of female-focused commodities and rebranded them to be geared towards men… The outsized attention surrounding Hims’s debut may be related to the fact that it co-opted the marketing strategy of female-focused health startups, rather than a product.”

Seeing the launch of millennial-empowerment brands for women (read: the (frequently problematic) Thinx) it feels significant that Hims is using a similar marketing strategy and applying it to the male audience. Millennial pink and all.

The FCC Repeals Net Neutrality

As you know from recent Hot Sauce posts, the debate of Net Neutrality “going away” has been a big topic of conversation.  As of yesterday, the FCC repealed Obama-Era net neutrality rules that guaranteed equal access to the internet.

What does this mean?

Basically, there’s a chance that internet providers can limit the websites that subscribers have access to.  Instead of being able to visit any site ever put into existence, they could in theory sell packages that allow customers to be able to visit certain sites only.  An example would be Package A allows access to top 100 sites, then Package B allows Package A plus some long tail sites, like the gazillions of blogs out there.  Additionally, they can control the speed at which websites load… preferred sites could load quickly while others are loaded at an intentionally slow rate… unless they pay more to get loaded quicker.

Why It’s Hot

Not only can this lead to a limitation of freedom of speech (if internet providers don’t have to provide ALL of the sites, there’s more room for propaganda and stifling voices that corporations don’t side with), but the online economy could change. Think about all of the little blogs that get traction through pinterest or other means.  Internet providers could make access to those sites nearly impossible if they wanted, cutting off income streams to thousands of people.  Only time will tell if internet providers do the “right” thing and let us continue to have our whole internet, the way it was meant to be.

Sources:

NY Times