New perspective on “voting with your wallet”

Progressive Shopper is a browser plug-in that reveals the political leanings of the brands and businesses you browse and shop. By aggregating political contributions made to the two parties, Progressive Shopper makes it easier for people who don’t generally consider themselves “activists” to follow the money and understand the impact of their purchase decisions.

Why It’s Hot

It begins with political contributions, but data related to every conceivable activity could eventually be similarly aggregated and used to reveal so much more about companies. Where do other charitable contributions go? How is a company’s operations contributing to climate change? What connections exist with organizations and nations in the global economy? With information like this essentially waiting for customers “at the cash register”, it will become increasingly important for companies to pay careful attention to the decisions they make – taking a more active and nuanced approach to defining what their brand stands for.

Closed for tourists. Open for Voluntourists

The Faroe Islands will be closed to visitors for one weekend in April ‘for maintenance’. From 26 to 28 April, locals on the 18-island archipelago will be working on conservation projects and, as the local tourism board Visit Faroe Islands explained on the campaign website, ‘delivering a touch of TLC to the Faroese countryside to ready it for visitors in 2019.’

The islands have invited 100 tourist volunteers to help with this project. Volunteers will maintain and create walking paths, construct viewpoints and put up signage to help with wayfinding. All participants will be given accommodation and food over the four-day, three-night period and, on the final night, there will be a celebratory meal.

The project was announced with an online video, which explained the rationale behind it, what volunteers would be doing and also included an official statement from the Faroes’ prime minister Aksel Johannesen. To register to participate, volunteers had to sign up via the campaign’s website and buy flights through 62N, the official travel agency partner of the Faroe Islands.

Why its hot?
There’s more to tourism than just numbers

Source: Contagious

Making a Spelling Error was Never Cuter

How do you get people who are interested in getting a purebred dog to adopt a mut instead? Güd the online dog food brand has found a way, by exploiting our spelling issues.

Güd sought out the most common canine spelling errors – like dashund (dachshund), rotweiller (rottweiler), shitsu (shih tzu) – on Google. It then gave the dogs at rescue centre Clube dos Vira-Latas that most needed a home one of those mispelled pure-breed names.

 

Güd then created a paid search ad that led to people being offered a free dog whenever they misspelled a pure dog breed on Google.

Why it’s hot: It’s a creative way to capitalize on human error for customer acquisition.

Taking the ‘His’ Out of History

His Story

You probably remember your elementary, middle and high school history books. There were stories of conflict, resolution, triumph and innovation. These are the stories of how the United States became the country it is today.

And the main characters in most of these stories? Dudes. Studies show that 89% of the history textbook references reference men as the main characters. Stories about men, written by men for men. Some academics accuse history as literally being his story.

HerStory

But a new augmented reality app aims to bring the other half of the population into the picture, literally. “Lessons in Herstory” shows students that there are women to remember as well. If students scan an image of a male historical figure in A History of US, Book 5: Liberty for All? 1820­–1860 (California’s most popular U.S. History text), the app unlocks a story of an important female historical figure from that same period. For example, if you scan President Zachary Taylor, and you’ll see an illustration and story of Cathay Williams, the first African-American woman to enlist in the army during the Civil War, when women were prohibited from entering the military.

[The app was created by the ad agency, Goodby Silverstein & Partners and currently features stories of 75 women from the 19th century. The project was born from a panel at Cannes Lions last year.]

Why It’s Hot

The novelty of AR has led to many frivolous uses of it as the industry struggled and grappled with how to make it useful. This application shows off AR in the best way possible – literally allowing it to augment our history lessons to tell a full story. Plus, this quickly allows us to recognize more to our history without having to rewrite history books.

Monitoring Your Posts with Facebook Messenger

Comment guard is a bot that can be applied to organic Facebook posts. When someone comments on a post, they automatically receive a private Facebook message.

It’s a Facebook post-auto-responder that can be used to build relationships between brands and consumers based on the content in the comment. The consumer will only become a “lead” after they respond to the private message.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Business A creates a post about designer sneakers.
  2. User A responds to the post saying, “I really want these sneakers, I haven’t found them anywhere.”
  3. The bot scans the message for words like “want” or a phrase like “I want” and automatically sends the user information about the business and how they can acquire these hard to find sneakers.
  4. User A engages with the bot and a community manager can then take over the conversation and guide the user toward conversion.

Messenger Guard in action

Read more here.

Why it’s HOT

  1. It takes less stress off of the community manager to scan messages for potential leads
  2. Businesses can develop more 1:1 communication with users which leads to better brand recognition
  3. Adds more ROI to social media as a marketing channel
  4. Adds a new KPI for social media such as intent to purchase which can be measured by messages sent by the bot and clicks to the URL sent by the bot

Influencer caught in college admissions investigation

News broke this week of a vast college admissions cheating scheme in which wealthy parents paid hundreds of thousands to get their kids into elite universities by falsifying documents and test scores with the help and cooperation of coaches, and college and test administrators. Olivia Jade, daughter of actress Lori Loughlin (Full House), beauty and lifestyle influencer to 3 million followers across Instagram and YouTube was one of the beneficiaries, and now her Instagram account is under fire.

https://jezebel.com/heres-everything-i-learned-about-lori-loughlins-influen-1833237961

Why it’s hot: Reminds us that a potential brand crisis can come from the most unexpected places. Brands that have worked with Olivia Jade include Sephora, Amazon and Tres Semme, though it’s likely they’ll be blameless here. Sheds light on the tangled web of personal + private that comes with the mainstream macro influencer.

The list of Short-form video content producers just got longer

Last month, former Dreamworks film exec Jeff Katzenberg and former CEO of HP Meg Whitman finally announced a name for their stealthy new startup – Quibi (for “quick-bites”). Quibi is the latest addition to the increasingly crowded streaming video space, offering short-form video content designed specifically for mobile. While streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Cable Networks continue to battle-it-out for our 2 hours of attention on their long-form video content, Quibi believes they have identified a new niche of consumers in the rapidly emerging short-form video content space. Short term video content now consumes an average 70 minutes of our attention a day and growing, and now Quibi is betting that 20 minutes of that time will be spent on its platform.
While platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook were built with and continue to thrive on original user-generated content, Quibi is promising users the quality they’d get from a big Hollywood production in the form of the short, bite-sized content you’d find on Tik Tok, Snapchat, etc. Traditionally, short-term video content is less than 60 seconds, but Quibi wants to take what would be, for example, a 2-hour feature film and unfold it over several multi-minute chapters. Imagine sitting down to watch a movie and only being able to watch eight minutes of it at a time. The platform promises to publish more than 100 pieces of this type of content every week, including both scripted and unscripted original content, exclusives from Quibi’s partner, and other daily news and sports programming.
With existing platforms like Netflix and even Amazon are adapting to this desire for short-form video content, success may seem like a long shot, but Quibi has already managed to recruit a long list of high-profile partners, including filmmakers Sam Raimi, Guillermo del Toro, mega-pop musicians Justin Bieber and Justin Timberlake, and even basketball legend Kobe Bryant. The streaming service isn’t set to launch until April 2020, however, the platform is stirring up conversations of the future of TV and how we digest content.

Why it’s hot: As our daily lives become increasingly more busy, and with more platforms than ever competing for our attention, Quibi is taking a huge gamble on the future of TV and the future of wholly-owned short-form video content. With our limited attention spans and on-the-go lifestyles, there’s a growing need for platforms to adapt and change to how we digest content throughout the day. 

Modernizing Beer Ads for Women

Just in time for International Women’s Day, Budweiser is releasing reimagined ads from the 50’s and 60’s for today’s audience. Understanding that sexist ads that objectify women no longer fly with consumers who expect brands to be more progressive, Budweiser is re-releasing the ads to nod to their past heritage, but make a point about its future.

The campaign, released today in conjunction with International Women’s Day, features full-page color ads in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times that juxtapose sexist Bud print ads from the 1950s and 60s with updated versions portraying women in empowered roles.

Source: https://adage.com/article/cmo-strategy/budweiser-modernized-sexist-ads/316915/

Budweiser International Women's Day NYTimes ad

Women now comprise more than 80% of the brand’s marketing team, so it’s refreshing to see that for them it’s about using their past to serve as a launching pad to show women in a more balanced way.

Budweiser International Women's Day LATimes ad

Why it’s hot:

Rather than hide their sexist past, the brand is showing how they can evolve in their thinking, especially in these times of extreme divisiveness.

would you free climb for a free film?

To promote its documentary about rock climbing, National Geographic has built a website urging people who want to watch it to do so. For every meter they ascend, Nat Geo unlocks a portion of the film “Free Solo” they can watch for free.

Why it’s hot:

Theoretically, this sounds like a great idea. People who climb, might be interested enough in a movie about people who climb, to go climb as a result. But, REI urging us to “Opt Outside” is one thing, asking us to climb a rock to unlock free content seems a bit another. This reminds us we should really think about the value exchange we’re providing in our marketing today. Is what we want worth what we’re asking people to give for it?

[Source]

Death of a spokesman

New Zealand life insurance comparison website LifeDirect killed off its mascot in a TV ad to persuade viewers to plan for their own deaths. The TV ad showed LifeDirect’s mascot of almost 10 years, Simon the sloth, on a hike to celebrate buying life insurance before tumbling off a cliff to his death.

The spot was shown simultaneously across 25 different channels during prime time but aired only once. The following day, LifeDirect continued the story by placing a print ad in New Zealand newspapers. The ad was in the style of an obituary and described how Simon had failed to identify the beneficiaries of his policy, inviting readers to stake their claim to a portion of the NZ$10,000.

Participants could enter the competition by inventing stories about how they knew Simon and why he would want them to have his money. Entries could be made by completing a template form on a dedicated website, or by submitting their own entries and adding photoshopped images, etc.

Why it’s hot?
Gamification of death

 

 

Source: Contagious

Mood-forecasting tech could help stop bad moods, and even suicides, before they occur

Wearable devices that could identify when an at-risk individual that might experience suicidal thoughts a day in advance and alert the person and their trusted contacts, might soon be a reality.

Fitness trackers and other electronic devices already monitor our physical activity, and scientists say similar technology can be used to track our psychological health in ways never before possible. New apps and wearables could soon help preserve our mental well-being by spotting early signs of emotional distress.

Psychiatrists rely on patients to tell doctors how they feel as the main input for their decisions. Mood forecasting technology could give doctors more reliable information.

Research shows that changes in our mental state, including sadness or anxiety, affects our bodies in discernible ways. Mood forecasting exploits the connection between the mind and the body. Heart rate, pulse, perspiration and skin temperature are all affected by emotional arousal. Additionally, the pace at which we text, call and post on social media all change with our moods.

Academic researchers and private companies are working to develop devices and programs that not only detect and interpret our biomarkers but also respond with helpful advice. For example, a mood-forecasting device or app might urge someone to call a friend when they have cut back on texting, or take a walk when the device hasn’t registered motion for several hours. Alternatively, shifting biomarkers or digital behavior could be communicated directly to an individual’s doctor, who could then intervene as necessary.

Why it’s hot: Mood forecasting could prevent bad moods, emotional suffering and potentially dangerous situations before they occur. Although there is some apprehension around the idea of collecting and transmitting such intimate personal data, the positive effects of such technology could be monumental.

 

Technology to give shoppers a closer look

Toyota is making it easier for car shoppers to learn about the features, specs and inner workings of the cars on the showroom floor. This augmented reality experience gives people an x-ray vision superpower, so they can see through the exterior of the cars they’re looking at, and see the inner workings – without having to thumb through a catalog, or chat with a pushy salesperson. The app can also deliver information on the components, and show the technologies in action – a cool way for people to understand complex tech, like Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain.

Why it’s Hot:  “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

The ubiquity of smart phones and digitally agile consumers provide marketers with highly engaging ways of not only delivering product information, but also demonstrating benefits and performance.

Why it’s Saucy:  Show me the money.

A tool with the potential to accelerate the customer decision journey.

https://www.techradar.com/news/toyota-showrooms-use-augmented-reality-to-let-customers-see-inside-cars

“Post-breakup concierge” service handles all your moving-out needs

Onward, the newly launched “post-breakup concierge service” that handles all your packing, housing, and self-care needs. A one-stop shop for moving out and moving on.

Not everyone has a nearby network of family or friends to assist on short notice. In fact, the company’s early research found that many people stay in relationships longer than necessary because they’re intimidated by the undertaking.

Company founders, childhood friends the since fourth grade, founded Onward after both suffered breakups within a six-month span. They struggled to pack up their belongings, quickly find a new apartment, and then furnish the space. “We realized that if we were going through this, that means other people are going through this, and there was no service that helps people deal with this nightmare amidst major emotional turmoil.”

Clients can easily book the remote services via the company website, and if they prefer, request a representative to meet them onsite for emotional support. Onward’s customized packages start at $99 for 10-day assistance, which includes housing placement, moving/packing, storage, as well as “strategies and discounts for self-care.” The latter constitutes matching clients with therapists, counselors, or mediators. Onward discovered that the newly single view finding and scheduling a therapist–one who takes their insurance–to be equally as daunting.

Pricier packages involve weekly scheduled check-ins and personalized neighborhood guides with recommendations on restaurants, bars, gyms, health studios, even meet-ups. As for housing, the service brokered strategic partnerships with various residence options, including a number of coliving spaces and furnished short-term rentals–and all the utilities and paperwork are taken care of. “You simply show up, like you would an Airbnb,” says Meck. “It’s an option for someone who needs something fast and furious.”

The company’s name reinforces the idea that a breakup can actually serve as an amazing opportunity to “really assert a new phase of your life,” Meck says, adding that many people start companies after a breakup. “It really can be a huge moment for professional and personal development.”

The company launched on Valentine’s Day with a social media campaign. To get the word out, Onward partnered with female organizations, yoga and meditation studios, as well women-focused spaces such as The Wing. The company already received “a lot” of referrals by people who recommend it to friends who need extra support. (Onward helps both men and women, but so far, marketing materials seem to skew more female.)

Why it’s hot: While it might sound silly at first, this new business is filling an unmet need – (an admirable one) – amongst NYC singles.

Source: FastCo

 

Digital License Plates

What’s the Story? 

First off, did you know that state legislatures have been in the process of proposing and voting on bills to allow electronic displays on cars? In fact, at the end of 2018, Michigan became the first state to approve the use of electronic license plates.

But Silicon Valley startup, Reviver Auto, had already seen the market for digital license plates. You might be wondering why you would need a digital license plate, but Reviver points out these plates could serve more functionality other than an electronic display of the numbers and letters that make up a license plate.

For example, states could tie a fully frictionless digital experience to renewing registrations through the plates, saving time at the DMV. The plates could also double as an EZ-Pass, or other RFID toll paying system. Or they could be used to send out messages like Amber alerts or a notification to alert authorities if the car is stolen.

Why It’s Hot

We’re increasingly seeing digital experiences that are useful and provide value (rather than being a shiny object). Sometimes these take the shape of transforming a physical entity and enhancing it to offer more features and less friction for consumers. And that is precisely the case here.

Source: Wired

Stealing Your Attention

Last week, while perusing my LinkedIn feed at breakfast, this post from NYC ad agency DeVito/Verdi caught my attention:

“Last night, it seems that 3 carts full of advertising awards were stolen from our NYC office. We have it on security cam. Dozens of trophies — One Show pencils, Cannes, 4A’s Best Creative Agency (6 of them), Andy’s, Addys, Art Directors. Many clients (#CarMax, #Macys, #Sony, #herbchambers, #greygoose, #Gildan, #meijer, #mountsinai, #duanereade, #legalseafoods, #OfficeDepot, #steinmart, #solgar). We can only imagine which agency stole them. Who else would want these? Help us find #DVCulprits”

It was posted by their president, Ellis Verdi, and accompanied by this video:
https://dms.licdn.com/playback/C4D05AQGbOh-2vzfGYA/c2fe783cb20d4654ad43acb1af50aa3c/feedshare-mp4_3300-captions-thumbnails/1507940147251-drlcss?e=1551286800&v=beta&t=Ev1JWamZhJoznhR5ECFe9dW2k5aFjCCdeUlCBVPnZko

Why It’s Hot
Unlike lots of other self-promotional content, this approach really caught my attention, and I was not alone. There were plenty of comments (some of whom obviously missed the point and were organizing vigilante squads) and the underlying message, that this agency has won 3 shopping carts full of awards, is now inescapably branded into my awareness.

This illustrates how activating emotion can be done in a variety of ways, some very unorthodox and highly effective.

Medical Tech Wants to Help You When Doctors Can’t

Although you pay for health care every month, there are gaps in the system that are not always covered. A wave of medical start-ups want to fill in those gaps. According to Forbes, more than $2.8 billion worth of venture capital was invested in health care start-ups in September 2018 alone. An increase of 70 percent over the previous year. It’s not hard to understand why. Especially in the United States, the health care you get from your insurance provider is hardly as comprehensive as it could be. Especially when it comes to day-to-day health problems.

For example, in the United States, hearing aids are rarely covered by health insurance. While 48 million people in the country suffer from some form of hearing loss, insurance providers do not consider it a vital issue unless it occurs at a young age. If you do decide to get one, you also have to go through a lengthy process of seeing your general practitioner, a specialist, etc. Then, once prescribed, the average cost for a pair of hearing aids is $4,700, or about $2,350 per ear.

Eargo, a new company that walks the line between medical firm and tech start-up, wants to make the process easier. Eargo sells a pair of hearing aids for $1,450. You can buy them directly from the company’s website and they offer a 45-day trial period to see if Eargo works for you. Unlike other over-the-counter personal sound amplifiers — which legally can’t be labeled hearing aids — the Eargo models are certified as Class 1 medical devices by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment of light to moderate hearing loss.

Modern Fertility is another company aiming to fill in a crack in our modern health care system. For $159, the company offers a fertility test that can help women who are trying to get pregnant, or may want to in the future, find out more about their fertility and plan ahead. After your test is analyzed, Modern Fertility will pair you with an infertility nurse for a one-on-one consultation that the company employs, as part of its package so you can get a breakdown of what your test means.

Why it’s hot: the gaps in the American healthcare system has provided ample opportunity for medical technology entrepreneurs to address and solve. Although not ideal, these tech companies aim to fill the gaps between you, your doctor and your health insurance.

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/20/smarter-living/-medical-tech-startups-insurance.html

dorito’s solves its age old problem…

Who doesn’t love Dorito’s? Nacho, Cool Ranch, Flamin’ Hot, whatever you fancy, they’re a classic and delicious snack. But for as long as they have existed, eating them has come at a price – Dorito’s fingers, the unshakeable film of Dorito’s dust that ends up all over everything you touch unless you clean your hands after each chip. 

But your clothes, furniture, pets, and gaming controllers no longer have to live in fear, for the Dorito’s Towel Bag is here, giving Dorito’s lovers a way to clean their hands while eating their favorite snack.

Why it’s hot

It’s a beautiful example of a brand embracing its essence, while improving its experience. Dorito’s dust is part of what makes Dorito’s the chip they are. But instead of eliminating it and changing the product, they created a new one to embrace their product’s dark side.

get travel tips directly from (holograms of) locals…

When you’re waiting for a flight at the airport, you’ve usually got some time to kill. Some people watch Netflix on their phones, some have a drink at the bar, but KLM has come up with another constructive way to capitalize on these moments.

They’ve developed a “bar” currently at airports in Amsterdam, Oslo, and Rio de Janeiro where people can connect with others in the country they’re off to visit to gather tips on local customs, culture, and sights.

Dubbed “Take Off Tips”, here’s how it works:

“KLM is matching travelers up with people at the destination they’re flying to. For example, someone at Schiphol Airport who is about to fly to Norway will be connected with someone at Oslo’s Gardermoen airport who is waiting to board a plane to Amsterdam. To connect the people on opposite sites of the world, the bar is equipped with hologram technology so it can project a real-time virtual image of the traveler at the other airport.”

Why It’s Hot:

From a brand perspective, it’s a great new example of KLM “social airline” experience – connecting people to enhance their otherwise impersonal flying experience (see “Layover with a Local” and “Meet&Seat”.

From an experience perspective, it’s a brilliant solution to a common problem – our current main recourse to get the same tips would be Googling, dredging Trip Advisor, etc. – secondary resources to gain a first-person perspective. Plus, it removes quite a bit of work involved in that process.

From a cultural perspective, it’s getting us off our screens and in touch with each other. Increasingly, the promise of technology is not going to be “there’s an app for that”. As digital infiltrates the physical world, technology is facilitating more human-friendly interactions, such as sitting down at a booth and being projected holographically so that it’s just a face-to-face meeting, no devices needed.

[Source]

Should the Super Bowl be a National Holiday?

An estimated 100m face paint-wearing, chest-pounding football fans chowed down on chicken wings and chugged beers yesterday as they watched the Super Bowl.

But today, 17.2m of those same fanatics are taking sick days from work, according to research reported by The Washington Post.

The Rams aren’t the only losers this morning: The total amount of lost productivity on ‘Super Sick Monday’ is expected to exceed $4B.

Most managers get it: 62% of execs “think it’s funny” when their employees call out sick the day after the big game, according to a recent survey.

But the hangovers also seem to be getting worse: Research shows that the number of workers who surrender to sleeping in on the day after the Bowl has been rising since 2005.

The amount of productivity lost in the aftermath of the Super Bowl is so consistent year after year that some managers want to throw in the towel and make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday and, according to research, 72% of HR managers agree.

Why It’s Hot:

A National Hangover Day sounds like a nice idea especially if your team lost the big game. The chances of this happening are slim to none: the last new holiday that was created was MLK day in 1983.

Putting the audience into the scene

New technologies are transforming the ways video content can be captured and experienced, making it possible to experience a scene from multiple angles, and feel as if the viewer is walking through the action. There have been a few recent developments on this front, along with some related activity in the AR space, but here are a couple of quick examples:

Future of video? Watch our first interview shot with volumetric tech, with help from a Seattle startup

Intel teams up with Premier League giants to offer soccer fans ‘immersive experiences’

Why it’s hot:

A great emerging opportunity to create more engaging content for marketing programs, generally. Also a potential way of enabling audiences to have a more visceral experience of a product or service in (simulated) action.

Everyday items in reusable packages

Recycling company TerraCycle has partnered with global FMCG brands to create Loop: a platform that offers customers everyday items in reusable packages.

Loop provides customers with branded FMCG goods, such as Häagen-Dazs ice-cream, Crest mouthwash and Tide detergent, in sturdy containers. When the customer is finished with the product, they return the packaging to the company, which then sterilises and re-uses it, creating a zero-waste cycle.

Loop aims to replace single-use plastics in the home by giving households the option to reduce the amount they have to recycle. In an interview with Bloomberg, founder Tom Szaky said, of the risk to the planet caused by pollution: ‘We can’t recycle or clean our way out of this. We have to stop the waste from entering the system to begin with.’

Loop was announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019. So far, 24 global FMCG brands have signed up to support the program, including Procter & Gamble, Nestle, PepsiCo, Unilever, The Body Shop, Coca-Cola and Danone.

Loop will begin a pilot in Spring 2019 in Paris, where customers will be able to purchase its products online through supermarket Carrefour’s website. and in New York.

TerraCycle will also distribute products through Tesco in the UK later in the year and is looking to reach Tokyo by 2020.

Around 300 products will be available through Loop, ranging from shampoo to washing powder. Each brand has worked with packaging designers to develop the re-usable containers. Häagen-Dazs ice cream, for example, has designed a double-walled stainless-steel container that keeps the contents cold throughout an entire evening, while Oral-B’s new click toothbrush design allows a user to detach the head from the handle, reducing waste by 60%.

Why its hot?
Research has also shown that one of the most common barriers to recycling is consumers feeling uncertain about which plastics can be recycled. With Loop, consumers wouldn’t need to worry about which products are or are not recyclable. The initiative unloads any supposed hassle that comes with the current recycling model in a simplistic way.

 

 

Calm: the mindfulness unicorn

Calm announced it raised $88m in a Series B funding round at a $1B valuation. The sleep, meditation, and relaxation app has grown rapidly to over 40m downloads worldwide, which equates to a new user joining every second.

US meditation has more than tripled from 2012 to 2017, according to the CDC. Companies like Calm and Headspace have become major players in the $4T health and wellness industry. When Calm was created 7 years ago, the company struggled to see adoption until about 18 months ago as people were finally becoming more open about mental health. By the end of 2017, Calm relaxed into a comfortable lead, increasing revenue 4x in 2018 and becoming the largest mindfulness app on the market.

What sets Calm apart from the deluge of mindfulness apps is primarily their beautiful design as well as their variety of bonus features in addition to meditation. They offer Sleep Stories, Music for focus, relaxation and sleep plus the options to meditate with just nature sounds for a set time period. They also have lectures by experts in the areas of emotions and meditations etc.

Why it’s hot: the company has its sights set on becoming the “Nike of the health and wellness industry” which will without doubt introduce a huge influx of similar apps and services to address health and wellness.

 

Facebook is about to launch a tool in the US that pings you to donate blood when there are shortages

Facebook is finally is using the strength of it’s network for a good cause! They’re getting ready to launch a tool that will notify users to donate blood when there is a shortage. T

The blood donation feature is the first tool built by Facebook’s four-year-old Social Good team, which also created the company’s disaster response tool — the feature that lets you mark yourself “safe” during a crisis.

facebook blood appThe initiative began in Bangladesh and has spread to Brazil and Pakistan before launching in the US.

In India, the problem was so dire that every week, thousands of users would flock to Facebook to ask their friends and family to give blood, according to Hema Budaraju, the company’s product director of health.

Inspired by those pleas, Budaraju and her team created an official Facebook blood donations tool that individuals and organizations in the country could turn to for help giving and receiving blood, introducing it in 2017. Since then, the tool has launched in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Brazil. More than 35 million Facebook users have signed up, Budaraju told Business Insider.

Why it’s hot? 

It”s a perfect example of a brand playing a meaningful role in the world they live in and also shows how much power brands actually have to make the world a better place.

Michael Buble…or Bubly?

When you combine the Super Bowl with pure charm, you get a commercial starring Michael Buble. Personally, I’m a big fan of this spot. What do you think?

Why It’s Hot: It’s funny, it’s charming, and it’s Michael Buble.

 

AI and Implicit Bias

Last weekend, AOC sounded the alarm about new research that found the facial recognition software Amazon is selling to law enforcement falls short on tests for accuracy and bias. According to the Washington Post’s reporting, researchers said Amazon’s algorithms misidentified the gender of darker-skinned women in about 30 percent of their tests. (Of course, Amazon promises that the facial recognition software in use is not the one tested by researchers.)

The problem stems from the sets of photos the algorithms were trained on — which skew heavily toward white men, the researchers said. And that caused AOC to sound the alarm on Twitter.

And if you’re really behind on implicit bias, please visit Harvard’s Project Implicit to learn more.

Why It’s Hot:

  1. For possibly the first time, Congress has a credible authority on technology and she’s on the House Oversight Committee so tech companies might want to take notice.
  2. As AI becomes real, we need to make sure we’re designing for each.

Source: Washington Post

Fitness Brands that Leverage Data to Deliver Personalized Experiences

Health and fitness brands are enabling customized experiences and tailored lifestyle plans using customer information like DNA or gym habits to help them reach their personal goals. Here are examples of 4 brands taking a unique approach to the fitness space:

FitnessGenes
U.K. genetic testing service FitnessGenes analyzes customers’ DNA and provides a genetically tailored workout and nutrition plan, with the optimal number of calories and macronutrient content for their unique genetic makeup. Consumers have easy access to their DNA results as well as workout and nutrition plans through the Member’s Area in the company’s website or app.

AthGene
Danish startup AthGene helps people improve their lifestyles and optimize their diets and fitness routines based on their DNA test results. Users collect their DNA with a mouth swab, and then receive easy-to-understand, actionable insights about their unique genetic makeup, such as their muscle fiber composition and sensitivity to carbohydrates, allowing them to tailor their nutrition and workout plans to their body’s needs.

Equinox

Equinox trialed a bot embedded into its mobile app that learns from a user’s activities, goals and preferences to recommend personalized workouts. The “Digital Coach” uses data from in-gym beacons to detect where gym-goers prefer to spend their time and subsequently nudge them towards specific activities. The service has successfully motivated members to check in 40% more than non-users during a six-month pilot program.

Thorne

Health startup Thorne sells at-home health tests that let users analyze various aspects of their health, such as cortisol levels, thyroid function and heavy metal levels, to help them address specific concerns, such as fatigue or fertility. Users provide a saliva or blood sample and receive a personalized health plan along with their test results.

Why it’s hot: These are hyper-targeted consumer experiences that are almost expected across many industries now – especially health and wellness.

Source 

Who’s Your Dadi?

As the D2C space continues to grow into an infinite amount of categories and brands, we can add men’s fertility to that list. Dadi, a new men’s health startup dedicated to fertility and sperm storage, believes the time is ripe for men to bypass the stuffy doctor’s office and deposit sperm into an FDA-licensed, yet patent pending, fertility and sperm storage kit from the comforts of their home.

According to a study in health journal Andrology, one in six couples has fertility issues, with little research or emphasis on how men factor into the equation. The CEO asserts that the industry hasn’t evolved in 30 to 40 years and neither has the way men approach reproductive health. They want to change that.

The founders at Dadi believe that infertility isn’t a women’s issue; it’s both a men’s and women’s issue. And they are hoping that this kit will encourage men to contribute to family planning conversations and become more aware of their reproductive health.

A typical men’s fertility program, which can include a reproductive kit, storage and lab fees, can cost hundreds to thousands of dollars. Dadi offers significantly lower pricing options at either $9.99 a month or $99 a year to store the sperm at the New England Cryogenic Center (NECC).

The entire process is fairly innocuous, as it includes no branding. Men can deposit their sperm into it, tap a button to mix in a preservative located in the cap to keep it stable and then use a FedEx prepaid label to ship back to Dadi’s lab facility at NECC. In 24 hours, consumers can expect results about their fertility as well as a video of their sperm. During the whole process, consumers can chat with the Dadi team either through email or text.

Why it’s hot: With the introduction of D2C brands like Hims and Roman, many companies are tackling sensitive male issues with tech-enabled solutions to age-old issues in an almost anonymous setting. Regardless of the benefits, there are many challenging regulations that come with sperm storage, not to mention getting men to care about fertility which will be the toughest challenge to overcome. These startups will need to go beyond education and brand building and really find a way to change the way we think about fertility as a society. 

Source: https://www.adweek.com/digital/direct-to-consumer-brand-aims-to-make-mens-fertility-more-affordable-and-attainable/

 

Stories by the route

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales
Volkswagen Highway Fairytales

To make children’s car journeys more entertaining, Volkswagen has created a location-based app that tells personalised stories based on what kids can see out of the back window.

The Snelweg Sprookjes (Road Tales) app detects ordinary objects such as tunnels, windmills, pass overs, gas stations, and electricity poles and transforms them in real-time into story elements. For example, a tunnel turns into a rocket launcher.

Why its hot?
Other than stories that adapt to your surroundings in real time, Road Tales gives children a reason to put their tablets way and look outside the window instead.

Drone delivers

JD.com, China’s second largest e-commerce site, delivered books and backpacks over 150 miles to students at a school in a village in Indonesia that’s hard to reach by road. Indonesia houses a population of more than 260 million people across some 17,000 islands making it one of the nations that could really use revolutionized delivery and logistics systems.

Why it’s hot: Technology is not taking over a human’s job in this case, it’s doing what they can’t do.

jd.id drone

Source

Domino’s rewards customers for disloyalty

Domino’s is promoting a limited-time addition to its rewards program that kicks off the day before Super Bowl Sunday, one of the top five days of the year in the ever-competitive pizza industry. The leading pizza chain is giving points for any brand of pizza. Someone could even heat up frozen pizza and earn points.

The offer gives anyone who signs up the chance to get free pizza without having to buy from Domino’s.After Domino’s cooked up the idea, its internal analytics and digital team worked on an artificial intelligence system that recognizes photos of pizza.

Thousands of photos were tested. Some trickery is actually allowed. If a dog has a pizza-shaped toy, a photo would get points for the owner, as the ad explains. While the 12-week offer may sound like a gimmick or act of desperation, it comes as Domino’s is playing from a position of strength and could extend its dominance over competitors including Pizza Hut, Little Caesars, Papa John’s and numerous smaller chains.

To get the rewards, people need to sign up for Domino’s loyalty program and share a photo of pizza, up to once a week. Each photo counts as 10 points. After six photos are approved by the company’s “Piedentifier” artificial intelligence system, the person has 60 points that can be redeemed for a free pizza.

Domino’s traditionally doesn’t advertise in the Super Bowl and this year is no exception. The main push will be TV ads, with a heavy rotation on Saturday and on Sunday in the hours before kickoff.

Why It’s Hot

Domino’s owns the pizza delivery space and rewarding customers for eating the competition is a snarky way of reminding them who is the best.