A symbol to send a message about clean water

From The Stable:

Wash your hands is a Covid safety imperative. But there are millions of people without access to clean water. One in ten people in the world is denied access to clean water and one in four people out of ten don’t have a decent toilet of their own. Without these basic human rights, overcoming poverty is just a dream, as is good health and combating a deadly virus like Covid-19. International charity WaterAid has been working for a number of years to change this. Right now, that job is even more urgent and it has partnered with Don’t Panic on a new campaign, Bring Water.

The agency picked up the rainbow symbol, which has become part of the Covid community response, a sign of solidarity and belief that began in schools, and that now adorns streets, filling the windows of homes and the temporarily closed windows of restaurants and businesses across the planet. In the campaign film, You Can’t Have a Rainbow Without Water​, real rainbows are documented across the globe.

Why it’s Hot

It was smart to take a common symbol of hope (the rainbow) to make a clear statement that without clean water, there is no hope.

Source: The Stable

Voices of Brussels

Like any metropolitan bus system, it’s something people in Brussels love to complain about. Buses are either too late or too full or often both. But it’s tough to complain about a message of love.

Since last week, Brussels’ public bus company STIB-MIVB has been calling on people to send in voice messages — and an address. Then, the special bus goes out in the early evening in a big loop to spread all the messages and leave a trail of happiness.

Yes, with smartphones and video calls, there is already a plethora of ways to communicate. But a love bus with the voices of children and dear ones?

“It gives me pleasure,” said Asuncion Mendez, 82, after hearing a message from her great-grandchildren. She said it broke the dreariness of another lockdown day indoors and momentarily eased her fear of the coronavirus.

“It was a beautiful surprise. It warms the heart and makes people come together despite the lockdown,” said her daughter Carmen Diaz, who watched and listened with her from a open window one floor above street level.

Lorena Sanchez, the daughter of Diaz and granddaughter of Mendez, says it’s a great idea. “It can really have an impact on a lot of people, especially the older ones who do not have access to technology,” said Sanchez. “It brings something very special.”

The bus company has been inundated with requests, about 750 messages from the blowing of kisses to a request by a child for someone to become her godmother, spokeswoman An Van hamme said.

Public buses are continuing to run in Brussels, with passengers required to board and exit by the back door and adhere to social distancing while inside.

The “Voice of Brussels” program is even leaving a smile on the face of bus drivers, so often the target of abuse.

Why it’s hot?
Talk about putting unused assets to work to fulfill a real human need during a pandemic

 

Source: Spectrum news 1

Hollywood will never be the same

Amidst theater closings and lockdowns, Universal Pictures released Trolls World Tour via video-on-demand a few weeks back. Well, AMC Theaters, which likely would’ve offered the movie if they’d been allowed to open, wasn’t too happy with that. As a result of the incident, and Universal’s CEO floating the idea of more VOD releases AMC has decided to no longer show any Universal films.

The film was released via iTunes and Amazon Prime Video and viewers were charged $20 to watch the film during a 48-hour rental window.

NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell, spoke in a Wall Street Journal piece on Tuesday, and mentioned the movie made some $100 million in premium VOD rentals in its first three weeks. Theaters typically take about 50% of box office sales, depending on the deal, while in this case Universal retained about 80%.

Does this signal the end of theaters altogether? Most likely not. But wait. Plot twist. On May 4, 1948, the Supreme Court made a game-changing decision that one company could not own both a film studio and theater chain. Basically, back then major studios controlled nearly everything about moviemaking. Today, that decision is being reviewed and could potentially be reversed or amended, which means big changes for an industry that already has a lot up in the air.

Why it’s hot:

While there is value in the theatre experience, it’s easy to see why a studio, especially someone like Sony, would love going vertical. Think about all the at home theatre equipment you could cross promote to enhance DTC viewing. It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out.

 

Coors’ offer to buy us a 6-pack is just what America needs right now

Apologies to the teetotalers among us.

This Coors ad from DDB Chicago hits all the right notes for an audience that needs a little encouragement and camaraderie right now … in these “unprecedented times.”

Humorous call-backs to examples of our national fortitude in tough times lends a sense of belonging in the face of struggle.

And what was the thread throughout our historical challenges? Beer.

And who knows better than anyone that sometimes, you just want to crack open a cold one and forget your problems, if just for a few hours? Coors.

We’re looking for escapism and Coors is here for us. Is it healthy? Probably not. Is it America? Absolutely.

Coors seems to know its place in the current crisis: They won’t fix the problem; they don’t claim to be saving anyone; they aren’t pandering to our sense of guilt by calling their workers “heroes”, but they can help mollify our anxiety (take the edge off) with a 6-pack of silver bullet.

Why it’s hot

1. Offering to buy a 6-pack for those who need it most, based on stories people tell on Twitter is a surefire way to get strong social engagement and brand affinity.

2. Humor done well is a salve on our collective psychological wounds, and positions Coors as our friend who totally gets what we’re going through.

Source: The Stable

How does America Respond

IT’S TIME TO BUILD

This is a provocative blog post by Marc Andressen, who’s a prominent venture capitalist, and was a founder of Netscape.

The blog post states and/or challenges why America is not building things and why cities like Singapore and Dubai are the modern marvels and not LA, Austin, or Seattle.

This crisis has woke up our country and our citizens, that we can’t get tests or swabs or ventilators; the richest super power in the world?

And part of that is because we haven’t been building things here and maybe its time. From new airports, hyperloops, supersonic aircraft, drone delivery, etc. maybe its time to build those things.

WHY ITS HOT:

It is part of a dialogue we will have to have coming out of this.

How much of our pharmaceutical industry should be outside or border? Yeah its cheaper, but does it put us all at risk to be dependent on China or other unstable sources?

There’s also a term called NIMBY, not in my background, that some may have heard of. In the bay area and other cities, theres a lack of housing and many times developers are blocked from building because it will block a view or devalue existing real estate.

The blog post is trying to challenge the path forward and to create a conversation around it.

Worth a read, check it out.

Self-destructing communal journal lures users to interact

A basic site This Website Will Self Destruct, created by artist Femme Android allows users to send an anonymous message into the void in order to keep the website alive. It’s been live since April 21, 2020.

Because the site tends to attract the lonely and despondent, there is a “Feeling Down?” button that links the user to mental health services.

Fast Company:

You can choose to leave your own note. Or you can merely observe, hitting the “read a message” button to see what others have posted, while leaving it to others to save the website from imminent annihilation. A death counter on top of the page refreshes every time someone posts something new, which, by my estimation, was happening about once every 5 or 10 seconds.

Like Post Secret, This Website Will Self-Destruct feels refreshingly Old Internet because, if nothing else, they are each equal parts gimmicky and sincere. This Website Will Self-Destruct offers an anonymous place to express yourself in a world where social media thirst traps and virtue signaling has trumped innocent and earnest discourse alike. It requires no subculture of rules to understand like a Reddit message board, no esoteric platform-specific memes like on Twitch, no subtweet agenda of the day to unpack like on Twitter, and no autoplay force-feeding you the next piece of content like on YouTube.

No, This Website Will Self-Destruct is just a website. It’s a place to jot down some thoughts, have a two-second laugh or cry, and kill some time until nobody cares about it anymore. And that moment that its purpose has been served, don’t worry—it’s happy to see itself out.

Why it’s hot:

It’s an interesting phenomenon, that just using the site: reading a note, or posting something silly (or sincere) makes one feel connected and part of a bigger, benevolent community with a shared goal.

The nature of the site (self-destructing if no one posts) activates our desire for continuity, compelling us to act.

Source: Fast Company

The change in consumer spending is just as expected after Covid-19 lockdowns went into effect

Looking at data for the week ending April 1, 2020; and comparing it to data from 2019.

Why it’s hot: The data validates what most know. Consumption patters have drastically changed and spending on many products/services has fallen out of necessity while many Americans have cut down spending on miscellaneous products for a variety of reasons (less disposable income, overall negative sentiment, etc.).

Source: The New York Times

Live Entertainment Adapts To The New Normal

Live entertainment is going digital. This weeks SNL took home cut video from cast members and made a #StayAtHome version. Check out the intro:

NYC theaters are also putting new content online. This week Playwrights Horizons launched a new podcast, Soundstage, putting new playwrights plays straight into your ear. This one is from one of my favorite playwrights, Robert O’Hara (Tufts Alumni for the strategy Jumbos).

And The National Theatre in London through their NT Live program (usually shown in movie theaters) is now releasing a live play on video every week. Actually their newest feature is making its world premiere RIGHT NOW. DURING HOT SAUCE.

Why it’s hot?

Art has a way of surviving. Even live art. There has been some twitter criticism that stage work is not translating well to the digital form, but this is opening a brand new way of staging live art and it’s still in its nascent stage. Looking forward to lots of new brilliant work in these new times.

Facebook comments have a significant impact on advertising activities

The folks over at Hackernoon recently asked themselves a question. “Do comments under your advertising posts help you produce the best bang for your buck?”

They decided there’s only one way to find out and put $1,000 of ad dollars down letting the Facebook A/B testing tool find out.

Hypothesis:

  • Nobody reads comments before clicking on ads. Going further they assumed that comments (doesn’t matter good or bad) could have a positive impact on the ad. It could get higher relevance rankings, which in turn could result in a lower CPM and cost per click.

Prediction:

  • Bad Comments (Version A) group would give a lower cost per install (CPI) than No Comments (Version B), because nobody actually reads the comments.

Settings:

  • Budget: $150 a day, campaign budget optimization, Highest value or lowest cost bid strategy
  • Countries: USA
  • Language: English
  • Duration: 7 days
  • Total budget: $1,000
  • Optimization strategy: App installs

Results:
Comments make a real difference and are of critical importance to users. Looks like customers read comments before clicking on ads and bad comments give the impression of a product before visiting a landing page.

Why it’s hot:
Comments matter. Facebook users read comments and when comments are not pleasant, it results in a higher cost per conversion. While the first touchpoint with your customers is Facebook Ads, the second is the comment section under the ad.

He built an A.I. Clone to Attend Zoom Meetings for Him

Click on the picture above or here to see video

 


The phrase Zoom meeting has been uttered countlessly over the past few weeks, as businesses around the world have turned to the video conferencing app to connect for meetings. Indeed, a number of folks we’ve queried in our #WFH Diaries series have reported being on Zoom essentially all day long.

Throw in some Zoom happy hours, and Zoom wine nights, and Zoom card games, and it can be a bit much. Matt Reed, a creative technologist at Redpepper in Nashville, was certainly feeling the strain, anyway.

“My number of Zoom meetings has gone through the mesosphere and is currently on Mars,” Reed writes on his agency’s blog. “There’s barely even time for bio-breaks, Reddit, or actually getting work done. It’s as if Zoom has turned into the Oasis from Ready Player One, where everyone spends every waking hour of their day inside.”

So, Reed flexed his creative tech chops and came up with an amusing solution. He built a digital A.I.-powered twin of himself, named Zoombot, and had the clone show up for the Zoom meetings in his place.

Zoombot uses advanced A.I. speech recognition and text-to-speech tools to actually respond to other people in the meetings. Also, Reed didn’t warn his colleagues he was doing this—and their reactions in the video are priceless.

Why it’s hot?
Way to break the break the endless monotony of video calls using your digital twin. And the best part is that Reed is spending all the free time “making that coffee whip stuff everybody is making,” he reveals. “Stuff is delicious.”

 

Source: musebycl.io

 

 

A new voice injects some action into the democratic party persona

Apparently this ad came out in September, but I was just served it on Instagram a couple of days ago, and it’s just plain fun.

Most political ads are easy to ignore, but not this one. It plays like a trailer for an action movie, and only at the end do we discover that Valerie Plame is a democrat running for Congress. It piques the viewers interest first, eschewing the common tendencies of both tuning out political ads and of ignoring messages from outside one’s political cohort.

Why it’s hot:

1. Democrats have a huge messaging problem. They’ve long been criticized for being kind of lame and generally unable to inspire voter turnout, which is the main thing they need to do in order to win elections. Valerie Plame is bringing a new edginess to the party.

2. Congressional races have entered the national stage. As Democrats are looking to turn Congress more blue to combat a nearly inevitable Trump win, democratic candidates are hoping to appeal not just to their future constituents, but to the country as a whole, to fund their campaigns. To do so, this ad focuses on key national political issues (“national security, health care, and women’s rights”) and takes direct aim at Trump.

Covid-19 is no joke on April Fool’s Day

This is the date on which most of us log onto cyberspace searching for roundups of the best April Fool’s Day gags from our favorite brands. It’s usually hit-and-miss but there’s always a handful that capture our imaginations and make us laugh a little.

Not surprisingly, the global Covid-19 pandemic has forced brands to cancel their pranks in 2020 out of respect for the seriousness of the situation.  What *is* surprisingly is the reaction from the very content creators that are usually tasked with coming up with great April Fools ideas: apparently they hate this day. And, they came out of the woodwork to tell us so:


Story on Poynter

Story on AdAge

Story on Slate

Why It’s Hot

It’s interesting to see how much loathing marketers have for the pranks that have become such a brand necessity. Is this the end of April Fool’s Day brand content forever? Or just another way to say “2020 sucks”?

Experience Virtual Travel from Yosemite to Amsterdam with These Livestreams

Virtual Travel: Webcams activated around the world are giving millions of shut-ins access to new ways of keeping cabin fever at bay. A low-fi solution for people facing bandwidth challenges, or burned out on Netflix.

Why It’s Hot: In a world where people are disconnected from one another in so many ways – unified by a common tragedy, but primarily “seeing” one another through the lens of news media – it’s nice to nice to have real, unfiltered reminders of the amazing and beautiful things that are still out there, connecting us all to one another.

As more cities around the world feel the effects of the coronavirus and government shutdowns, virtual travel is becoming more of a necessity. Cities and hotels around the world are opening up webcams, so you can tap into life far, far away from your own home. These live streams let you see Hawaii’s oceans, Croatia’s islands, Tokyo’s streets, and Kenya’s highlands (among others) in real time, making it even easier to picture yourself in far-off places. So grab a plate of your favorite food, snuggle up in your comfiest chair, and get ready to virtually visit some seriously beautiful destinations.

Sydney, Australia

Easily one of the higher-quality videos on this list, Webcam Sydney provides a gorgeous livestream of the Sydney Harbour. You can easily spot the Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Circular Quay, and The Rocks in the panoramic shot; make sure to sneak a peak when the sun goes down (which is about when the sun comes up in the U.S.) to see the harbor’s glittering nighttime lights.

Watch the livestream here.

Northern Lights, Canada

Trying to spot the elusive Northern Lights usually involves camping out in the cold in the middle of the night, desperately hoping for perfect weather and conditions (and even then it still might not happen). This Northern Lights webcam in Manitoba, Canada, makes the process much easier, letting us watch the night sky from the warmth of our homes. If the idea of waiting for a spark of light on your computer screen is still too much effort, the site also shows a highlights reel and lets viewers post screenshots of their findings.

Watch the livestream here.

Trevi Fountain, Rome

Possibly the most famous fountain in the world, the Trevi Fountain is a Baroque masterpiece depicting Neptune atop a chariot pulled by sea horses. The Roman landmark is typically surrounded by masses of tourists, but currently sits quiet thanks to Italy’s nationwide lockdown. The resulting livestream really shows off the fountain’s design—and it’s strangely relaxing, too.

Watch the livestream here.

Yosemite Falls, California

The Yosemite webcam is one of our favorites. It streams the 2,424-foot-tall waterfall’s top section, Upper Yosemite Falls, in its scenic, roaring glory. The peak flow occurs in early summer as the snow starts to melt, but it’s looking pretty awesome right now.

Watch the livestream here.

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite Falls is on display, thanks to a live webcam.

Getty

Royal Naval Dockyard, Bermuda

Sailboats, yachts, sunsets: What more could you want while stuck at home? This webcam gives viewers an all-encompassing look into the waterfront life of Bermuda‘s historic Royal Naval Dockyard, which is still used to house cruise ships, museums, and artsy shops.

Watch the livestream here.

CN Tower, Toronto

Get sweeping views of Toronto from this webcam located on top of the CN Tower, the city’s tallest—and most iconic—landmark at 1,815 feet. You can switch between east- and west-facing cameras, letting you see Lake Ontario, the Toronto Islands, the Royal Ontario Museum, and much more.

Watch the livestream here.

Hvar, Croatia

The country’s most popular island for nightlife and yachters, Hvar is also Croatia’s sunniest spot. Luckily for those of us stuck with cramped quarters and cloudy weather, the Croatian island offers a 24/7 panoramic webcam showing off its port and the Pakleni islands in the distance. The view is especially gorgeous during sunrise and sunset.

Watch the livestream here.

Thailand

Thailand has just about everything we’re craving right now: Beautiful beaches, rich culture, and some of the most luxurious resorts on the planet. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has a live stream view conveniently located on YouTube, where people can take a look at a number of Thai destinations (arranged in a tidy collage) from the comfort of their home.

Watch the livestream here.

Cancun, Mexico

The beach is the main attraction at NIZUC Resort & Spa, located on the northeast tip of the Yucatán Peninsula. Anyone craving some waves and sunshine can now tune into the resort’s live webcam, which offers a perfect shot of the shoreline and stretches of water.

Watch the livestream here.

Shibuya Crossing, Japan

The Japan National Tourism Organization is currently encouraging people to satisfy their wanderlust remotely, with virtual experiences showcasing the best of the country. Our favorite is the Shibuya Crossing webcam, which overlooks Tokyo’s busiest intersection. It’s not quite as crowded as usual these days, but it’s still pretty crowded by current social-distancing standards—you might even end up grateful for your quarantine situation after watching the “Shibuya scramble” for a few seconds.

Watch the livestream here.

Shibuya crossing in Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo’s Shibuya Crossing is usually packed with pedestrians.

Getty

Kauai, Hawaii

Bring some real-time Hawaiian surf into your living room, courtesy of rental company Great Vacation Retreats. Their webcam faces the popular PKs surf break on Kauai, showing off the island’s natural landscapes among the killer waves.

Watch the livestream here.

Niagara Falls

While most of Niagara’s tours and visitor facilities are closed (on both the Canadian and U.S. sides), the surrounding state parks and trails are still open—for now, at least. But if you want to practice true social distancing, we recommend checking out the Niagara Falls live webcam, presented by the Hilton Fallsview Hotel in Ontario. The sound of the crashing water is pure white noise bliss, and the camera’s aerial view is better than what you’d see in person.

Watch the livestream here.

Dam Square, Amsterdam

Like many major cities around the world, Amsterdam has closed its attractions, restaurants, and bars to curb the spread of COVID-19. We love this webcam of Dam Square (the city’s hopping central spot), which oscillates to provide great shots of the area’s streets, sculptures, and stunning architecture. And if you’re feeling really lonely, there are still a few residents strolling around.

Watch the livestream here.

Central Kenya

Situated in the highlands of central Kenya, the Mpala Research Centre is a 48,000-acre “living laboratory” that welcomes scientist and researches from around the globe. Their webcam provides a 24/7 feed of one of the watering holes on their property, where you’re pretty much guaranteed to spot hippos, leopards, zebras, and more at any given moment. (I’m watching three very hungry giraffes as I type this.)

Watch the livestream here.

Wildlife webcams, multiple locations

Do you want even more action in your livestream life? Be sure to check out our compilation of wildlife webcams around the world, showcasing elephants in South Africa, endangered gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and tons of sea creatures in zoos and aquariums. The eerily hypnotic sea jelly cam at California’s Aquarium of the Pacific is a personal favorite.

Tipping Bartenders From Home

With most bartenders currently out of work due to mandated bar closures and social distancing, consumers and companies are stepping up to help them get through this with virtual tips. The hashtag #VirtualTipJar shows how many have set up ways to donate from Venmo to GoFundMe to dedicated websites.

One of the biggest contributors so far has been Miller Lite. They announced a $1,000,000 donation to the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program set up by the United States Bartender’s Guild, and are encouraging others to donate.

Ryan Reynolds’ company Aviation Gin is also contributing to the USBG fund. Through May 1st, they will be donating 30% of all their online sales.

The Aviation Gin website also mentions that the company already “started a tab” with a $15,000 donation.

Why It’s Hot

As communities do their best to rally around those who need it most right now, it’s encouraging to see how brands are doing their part to contribute and provide ways to help.

Source

 

TV Ads in the age of Covid-19: behind the curve?

Regardless of how you feel about social distancing, our feelings about sharing open spaces with strangers has changed. In one short week, we have been retrained on how to interact with the rest of society. For those who aren’t used to staying as far away from other people as possible, it must be tough.

For this reason, it is very strange to see tv commercials or tv shows where people are not practicing social distancing guidelines. It’s triggering to see a tv ad where people are hanging out at a restaurant or attending a sporting event without kinda freaking out.

 
Why It’s Hot

All of these ads were produced months before we had even heard of the phrase “social distancing.” It will be interesting to see how this will impact marketing and advertising in the coming months.

 

How to stop facemask hoarding


Image result for taiwan flag face masks
Image result for taiwan flag face masks
Taiwan came up with a unique alternative to fend off Chinese buyers from purchasing the face masks produced in its country for protecting themselves against the deadly coronavirus.

It printed its national flag on the facemask to ensure so that no Chinese national buys it or even steals it in case of dire need, reports said.

As the number of infections and confirmed positive cases soar in China, the Chinese purchase of the face masks rapidly began to deplete the global supply.

Why its hot?
A clever (but also cruel) way to not just stop hoarding but also test the loyalty of mainland China.

D2C might not work for everything

https://marker.medium.com/why-all-the-warby-parker-clones-are-now-imploding-44bfcc70a00c

An illustration with different characters representing direct-to-consumer startups such as Casper, Harry’s, Away, Brandless.

This blog post analyzes the Direct-to-consumer market and how the trend that was started by Warby Parker and Dollar Shave Club may not be replicable by others. Fitness brands, private label household goods, mattresses, luggage have all go to the D2C model, with lots of funding.

Why its hot:

Brands like Away and Casper have developed a solid following and popularity amongst their customers, but are their business models sustainable. In the blog, it states that how often do people buy a mattress or a suitcase? Once every few years? sometimes 5-10 years. Is their product like Warby Parker where they found a significant savings from the incumbents and margin expansion through direct distribution? Other D2C brands were also started in down economies and they bootstrapped their businesses.

Casper, Away, Brandless (failed), Outdoor Voices (recently fired CEO) have all been well funded by the venture community and they spend heavily on customer acquisition and branding through Google and Facebook, events, pop-up stores, flag ship retail, influencers, etc.

If these D2C brands cannot reduce their CAC and increase retention rates or broaden their category, could there be industry impact of reduced digital media spending that flows through the whole system?

Keep an eye out!

The Corona Running Boom?

It is clear that the Corona pandemic will radically change people’s behavior for the foreseeable future. What is less clear is precisely how behaviors will change and whether new habits will stick around after the pandemic is over (fingers crossed).

The New York Times reports that a running boom is happening–which makes sense given the number of people who can no longer exercise at gyms or indoors. But with potentially millions of people taking up running, how many of them will discover that they enjoy the habit and continue even when their gym membership is available again? The impact could be huge for years to come.

Running along the Hudson River.

Why it’s hot: What other activities are taking off? What activities are being displaced? What long-term impact could new habits have after the pandemic ends?

Brand agency plays “social safety net” for SXSW service industry workers whose incomes were canceled by COVID-19

From Fast Company: “A branding agency in Austin, Texas, has launched a GoFundMe page to tip the local service workers impacted by the cancellation of this month’s South by Southwest festival. “Thousands of Austin service workers and musicians will be hit significantly from canceled events, lost wages and tips. We’ll take the funds to Austin music venues, restaurants, bars and hotels and distribute them to individuals from March 13-22,” write the fund’s creators, from the agency T3.

Nearly half a million festival-goers were expected to arrive in Austin beginning this week. The giant culture festival that mingles artists, musicians, and startups was canceled on Friday by the city of Austin over COVID-19 concerns, following the pullout of companies such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as an online petition with over 55,000 signees calling for a cancellation. Festival organizers said they are “devastated,” and local hotels and venues that depend on attendees’ spending say they may be put out of business.”

Amid talks of a $15 minimum wage and Medicare For All in the US, the coronavirus is making it even more painfully clear how many people are living just on the edge of ruin.

Why it’s hot:

Covid-19 is wreaking havoc on the economy, and since no one wants to gather in the places where these people work, service workers are going to be hit particularly hard. A hyper-aware public seems receptive to brands that “protect their people”, so it’ll be interesting to see how brands attempt to spin that in their favor.

“We’re not doing this for publicity, but to help our city.” They say they aren’t doing it for publicity, but they sure are getting a lot of publicity for it. This is a do-gooder publicity stunt that everyone can get behind, coming not from a consumer brand, but from an agency. Unfortunately, they’re unable to innovate on actually helping service workers, and this stunt continues to perpetuate the system that keeps service workers in such a vulnerable position.

It’s a nice story that brands can do good in the world, but everyone should remember that sometimes brands just can’t solve certain social problems.

Source: Fast Company

What’s in a name?





Hershey is making good use of its own name for International Women’s Day, launching a campaign in Brazil that includes the creation of “Her” and “She” chocolate bars—with packaging celebrating great women musicians, illustrators and other artists.

“International Women’s Day is marked by the struggle of women for their rights,” says Ana Costa, HR director at Hershey Brazil. “Having this in mind is crucial when sharing experiences with our employees, to assure they know they’re working for a company that acknowledges their value and believes in their potential.”

Hershey says 52 percent of its leadership is female, including Michele Buck, global CEO.

Hershey is encouraging other women artists to share their work in social media. Posts tagged #HerShe and #HerSheGallery could have their posts shared by the brand.

Why it’s hot?
Great use of something that’s inherent in the brand to seamlessly become part of a hot topic in our culture. Unlike so many other brands that are making forced efforts to become part of this conversation related to equality and progress of women, guess Hershey got lucky with its name. But very surprised this has not been done before.

Source: Muse by Clio

Hefty makes a brawny claim about reducing waste

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to recycling and reducing waste is in educating people on what it is, why it matters, and how to do it, all while not boring people to death about it, or coming off as preachy. Hefty takes on that messaging hurdle with a little humor and smartly keeps the details vague.

Another issue with marketing a brand’s waste reduction is in equating it to something people can understand. How do you wrap your head around the fact that globally we produced 275 million metric tons of plastic waste in 2010! You can’t. People need a frame of reference to understand these abstract numbers, and this campaign does that with the help of a somewhat goofy strongman pulling a passenger jet, which represents the weight of the plastics that Hefty has managed to reclaim.

Once interest is piqued, people are taken to a micro-site that explains in more detail Hefty’s sustainability efforts: Hefty Sustainability.com

And what they’re doing is actually pretty cool and innovative. They have created a special bag in which to put hard-to-recycle plastics (those that are not accepted by most residential recycling programs) such as plastic food packaging, straws, candy wrappers, etc., which would otherwise most certainly end up in a landfill, in a tree, or choking the windpipe of a seabird.

Why it’s hot:

1. It doesn’t require you to identify as “green” in order to get it: A lot of “sustainable” brands lean into the lifestyle of the eco-conscious in their messaging, but that can turn off a lot of people who don’t identify that way. For a nationwide brand like Hefty, it makes more sense to stay away from identity and focus on their product and accomplishments.

2. It’s not much of an accomplishment actually, but it’s a start, and it’s backed up by action: Given the fact that more than 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans every year, a well-informed consumer might scoff at Hefty’s accomplishment of converting one measly airliner’s worth of hard-to-recycle plastic into new materials. But they have a model that helps collect plastics that you can’t normally recycle, and uses their product in a way people are already using it to do so.

3. Mining trash is actually a way to generate revenue: This is a mostly untapped market for raw materials, which is essentially TerraCycle’s business model, of gathering material others can’t (or won’t) and reselling it, which had it earning $20+ million in revenue in 2018.

Source: Marketing Dive

Panera coffee subscription is the new free-wifi, but it costs $9+/month

Panera has launched a coffee subscription as a part of its loyalty program. For $8.99/month, you get unlimited drip coffee — 1 cup every two hours for as long as you can handle it. They may be burning through beans, but what this really means is they’ll be selling a lot more sandwiches.

From Fast Company: “Though Panera is pitching the subscription as a way for you to save money on coffee, Panera’s 150 test locations over the last three months saw subscribers visit three times more frequently and purchase 70% more in add-on items than the average customer. In other words, watch your wallet. These metrics, in addition to a surge of new customers, are inspiring Panera’s quick nationwide rollout.”

Because most Panera locations are suburban, customers tend to drive to the location. When they’ve made the commitment to drive, people are more likely to “bundle” their shopping by also eating at Panera once they’ve picked up their subscriber coffee.

Bonus points: being mostly suburban, Panera also avoids the on-foot, in-and-out commuter coffee buyers who are not likely to purchase any additional goods.

For consumers, it’s a novel way to think about coffee purchase.

For Panera, it seems like a smart way to lure people into their stores, in order to sell them higher-margin products like sandwiches and soups.

Why it’s hot:

1. Data: Registered subscribers will give Panera a huge amount of consumer data that they could use to understand menu preferences by a variety of demographics, as well as better identify core customers and understand their habits.

2. Earn brand loyalty by exploiting commitment bias: If you get someone to buy into the subscription, they are far more likely to continue to go to you for their coffee fix even if they ultimately cancel their subscription as brains subconsciously associate their body’s physiological coffee high with your store, and those neural pathways are difficult (and cognitively costly) to change.

3. It’s a smart lure: A big challenge for suburban food and beverage shops is getting people in the door. This encourages that, and a lot of people who go into a shop to buy coffee end up buying a muffin, or a sandwich, which is where these companies really make their money. If you stay (or return) to Panera to take advantage of the every-two-hour refill, you’re likely to buy even more.

Source: Fast Company

The Network Effect

Andreessen Horowitz, the notable VC firm who had early investments in the likes of Facebook and Lyft recently announced ” The Marketplace 100,” a ranking of the largest and fastest-growing consumer-facing marketplace startups and private companies.

They determined the rankings by looking at US credit card data to understand where consumers are actually spending their money.

Here are the key takeaways from the Marketplace 100:

  • Four marketplace startups– Airbnb, Doordash, Instacart, and Postmates– account for 76% of consumer spending.
  • Travel, food, and groceries are the largest categories.
  • Emerging categories include celebrity shout-out services, streetwear sites, fitness memberships, and even car wash providers.
  • Some marketplaces are growing really fast—3x to 5x year-over-year.

Why it’s hot:
Collectively, millions of individuals and small businesses make a living operating on these platforms, where hundreds of billions of dollars of goods and services trade hands each year. By possessing powerful network effects, marketplaces can become huge economies themselves.

Americans’ new fear: a nonexistent beer virus

As fears of a new virus called “coronavirus” spreads globally, there is also a recent spike in fear that the virus is somehow related to a popular beer brand by a similar name: Corona.

The chart below shows a dramatic increase this week on searches for “beer virus” (blue) and “corona beer virus” (red).

Story on USA Today

The beer company has not seemingly responded to the confusion or taken advantage of the opportunity to poke fun at the situation.

The U.S. is only #11 in terms of search volume for “corona beer virus” (hooray?). As far as domestic search data, the great state of West Virginia leads the way.

Maybe they’re just taking these memes too literally:

Why it’s Hot

It shows how quickly a brand can get blindsided by an event completely out of their control.

Cadbury EATertainment

To promote the return of its Creme Eggs, Cadbury has launched a Netflix-style streaming service in the UK and Ireland.

All content on the EATertainment website contains references to the chocolate Easter treat that are both subtle and obvious. The programs include Girl Vs. Goo,  which document host Jahannah James’s quest to seek out ‘the best Creme Egg dishes in the country’, Armeggeddon, a mini film following three friends hiding away in an underground bunker and The Gooru, a series of Creme Egg-inspired yoga classes.

Anyone can register to gain limited access to the site by entering their personal details. But to watch all the content and enter a competition to win up to £10,000 ($13,450), users need to purchase a Cadbury Creme Egg and upload a picture of it to the website.

Cadbury has also partnered with Amazon as part of its Creme Egg promotional campaign. Amazon has written and produced two pieces of Creme Egg-themed content, which it is hosting on its Prime Video streaming hub to drive viewers to the EATertainment site. Meanwhile, the EATertainment site directs visitors to a branded page on Amazon where they can purchase a box of 48 Creme Eggs. Cadbury is also handing out £5 ($6.50) Amazon vouchers to 1000 people as part of its competition.

To promote its EATentertainment site, on 23 January Cadbury is throwing a Creme Egg-themed culinary event in London’s Leicester Square. For 24 hours Cadbury will host a Facebook Live stream of visitors sampling dishes from Creme Egg spaghetti to Creme Egg curry. The brand will also inviting people to star of their very own Creme Egg movie.

Why it’s Hot: In addition to being a fun content marketing activation, this is also a really well thought out consumer journey. An undertaking this massive truly becomes worth it when you factor in the data collection component and the direct link to purchase.

Source

Brands tap into growing ASMR Video trend

We all know tax season is a stressful time, especially if a) you’ve never done it before and b) you have to do it yourself (Turbo-Tax-style). H&R, known for its vast network of tax experts,  uses humor and the popular ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) which is “the experience of a tingling season on the skin often triggered by specific auditory and visual stimuli such as whispering”, to de-stress and help millennials feel more relaxed during tax season.

The fact that the brand can actually back up the idea of ‘peace of mind’ by having real people available to talk to (unlike Turbo Tax which mostly focuses on their online tool) makes this entertaining piece of content more believable and endearing.

JetBlue also tapped into this growing trend very recently to create a 9-minute long soundtrack YouTube video with the purpose of calming passengers during the extra stressful holiday traveling season. The video is called “AirSMR” and it features sounds of a standard JFK airport Terminal: suitcases rolling, fingers tapping a keyboard, and planes taking off and touching down (but none of the really annoying sounds of TSA agents or crying babies of course).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/travel/2019/12/17/airport-asmr-jetblue-thinks-boarding-calls-suitcase-sounds-will-calm-you-so-they-released-track-it/

JetBlue shared the video on YouTube and other social media channels like Instagram, which, interestingly, resulted in 100% negative comments due to general negative airport experiences shared by customers. While it’s nice the brand is trying to stay relevant by tapping into this growing trend, it’d have been even better to have released this idea in conjunction with actual meaningful improvements to customers’ travel experiences, or, to have done like H&R Block which used the trend to make their own ads more pleasant.

Why it’s hot: Today’s always-on, overstimulated lives are causing extreme levels of burnout. Smart brands will look for ways their advertising and/or their experiences can  help today’s burnout consumers de-stress, reset and reboot.

Would you give up a kidney for Super Bowl tickets? Some would

Some football fans would be willing to do anything to score tickets for the Super Bowl — even if that means giving up internal organs. According to a new poll conducted by Ticketmaster, which was reported by Reuters, some fans say they would give up organs or sex, and even end relationships if it meant they could receive a ticket to the biggest event of the year.

The survey, which polled 3,200 NFL fans over the age of 18 within the final two weeks of 2019, was split up into 100 people per team by gender. Nearly half of those surveyed said they would buy season tickets if they became rich, and 16% said they had broken up with someone over their alliance of the other team.

Nearly 75% of those polled considered themselves “avid” fans, which explains why would they would go to such lengths to score tickets. Other things they’d give up:

  • 35% said they would give up drinking for a year to attend a Super Bowl game that featured their team
  • 14% said they would give up sex for 12 months
  • 7% actually admitted they would donate a kidney or leave their partner if it meant they could score tickets to the big game day.

Currently, tickets are up-for-grabs on Ticketmaster for anywhere between $5,000 and $37,000 per seat. On the secondary market, ticket prices have just moved north of the $4,000 get-in mark.

Why it’s hot:
From crucial officiating mistakes to team scandals, to domestic violence, the league is no stranger to mitigating criticism. Yet, fans are still willing to stick with the brand. The NFL generated about $15 billion this past season and is on track to hit $25 billion in annual revenue by 2027. The brand is basically impenetrable.

What does Hygge, Popeye’s chicken sandwich and the color blue have in common?

In short, comfort. Whether it’s the grueling polarizing political climate, the endless buzz of tech always pressing for our attention or our own personal life commitments tugging at us in all directions, we seem to be increasingly living in a constant state of anxiety and it’s only natural that we’re craving comfort.

According to Google Search data for 2019, Americans were more likely to be cooking up a Shepherd’s pie or indulging their sweet tooth with a homey snickerdoodle cookie rather than the Instagram-famous Unicorn cake which topped last year’s trending search spot. Speaking of comfort foods, after selling out in just two weeks, Popeye’s now famous chicken sandwich was brought back in the Fall to amazing success.

Why the bend toward comfort foods in 2019? It’s possible that these trending searches for folksy foods are driven by a culture increasingly hungry for an anxiety antidote, a bite of hygge, if you will.

The Pantone Color Institute would agree. They announced recently that the color for 2020 is the classic blue. You don’t need to know much about color theory to know blue = comfort. Pantone settled on a shade that offers “reassurance, confidence and connection that people may be searching for in an uncertain global miliu.” 

Specially in uncertain times when it feels like things are always changing and nothing is ever certain, how can we offer our consumers more comfort?

How can brands balance the need to provide new and exciting experiences/innovation while also making them feel comforting and familiar?

 

 Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/pantone-color-classic-blue-2020/index.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/eveturowpaul/2019/12/13/googles-year-in-search-reveals-2019-as-the-year-of-comfort-foods/#4e6709002be5

College, was it really worth the amount you paid?

65% of jobs require some type of college degree. As tuition skyrockets, how much is it really worth when you can basically learn all the things you actually are interested online.

Trends like the Gig economy, smaller boot camps and more directed programs that don’t take as long are gaining momentum not to mention huge interest in educational classes from places like Lynda, Pluralsight, LinkedIn and Youtube are recognizing the need for knowledge in the market.

This is all happening while tuition’s skyrocket. So is it even worth it?

Georgetown set out to find out. They considered 4500 Schools for non-profit, profit and private schools in the country.

Georgetown Study

Best long-term plan: Four-year private, nonprofit colleges. These pricey degrees take a while to bear their fruits. For example, Babson College, a private college in Massachusetts, ranks 304th in value at 10 years, but 7th after 40 years, with a payoff of $1.98 million—edging out Harvard University at $1.96 million.

Best short-term plan: A two-year certificate or associate’s degree can have a high return on investment after 10 years, particularly in nursing. Veeb Nassau County School of Practical Nursing and Putnam Westchester BOCES-Practical Nursing Program rock 40-year payoffs of $1.4 million, which are in line with the payoffs of four-year degrees from Northwestern University or the University of Chicago. #gonursing

Chart to look it up your school

Was your college worth it?

Why it’s hot:

Because of all the questions it arises!

Is it worth it for some people to go to certain schools? Shines a bit of more light not only on the institution but a bit on the actual attendees.

average age of entry for CUNY schools is higher than private schools. Why is that?

And some of them average 33. So the idea of the typical college grad is different than the norm.

What are the stats for you school?

Sustainable Baby Clothes

UpChoose, a year-old startup, aims ‘to reimagine and redesign consumption in a way that’s less wasteful and more sustainable and efficient’ with its organic babywear rental service.

Body image for Always in fashion

New parents are confronted with endless choices of baby clothes, toys and accessories. Whether they feel pressure to buy the latest products or are given them by well-meaning family and friends, what we think of as an exciting time in our lives, entrepreneur and sustainability advocate Ali El Idrissi, the founder of UpChoose, views the occasion as a source of enormous waste, with many of the products outgrown in a matter of weeks.

But instead of lecturing people to buy less, he’s providing a sustainable and somewhat affordable alternative.

Body image for Always in fashion

Why it’s hot: With UpChoose, El Idrissi is democratizing sustainability. While sustainable subscription services aren’t new, one targeted to new parents seems to be. UpChoose is a way for individuals to help tackle over-consumption in their lives, while governments and companies attempt to tackle it on the larger world stage. Also, depending on where your live, the option to have temporary baby clothes, and eventually even furniture (his plan to expand at some point in the future), could be a real time and space saver for urban families in cities with itty-bitty living spaces (NYC).

Source: Contagious.io