What it takes to launch a new fast-fashion collection? A brand partnership, a pop star and 6 new Instagram AR filters

Remember when Target released their insanely popular and highly anticipated partnership with Zac Posen? Back then, the existence of that partnership alone drove enough PR and excitement to make that launch an astronomical success.

Fast forward to today. H&M is dropping its new collection in partnership with Kangol. But that is certainly not enough to entice Gen Z today. Beyond the new partnership and, of course, clothing collection, the brands partnered with British pop start Mabel – not just as a spokesperson but – to create a music video along with new 6 AR-filters that allow people to star in their own music videos (and H&M social channels). Basically, H&M’s new collection is a Tik-Tok campaign on Insta.

Gen Z’s fashion trends have also dramatically changed since Covid as nearly half of young consumers say that COVID has changed the kind of clothing they shop for, according to according to YPulse’s new fashion and style report. Since the start of the pandemic, quarantined young consumers have helped create a loungewear and athleisure boom, and their fashion interests have been changing. The pandemic has spurred at-home fashion trends, and Glossy reported that young shoppers now prefer “comfortable, seasonless” fashion over “runway trends” so H&M/Kangol’s new line will likely also appeal to them based on the cool, laid-back, 90’s nostalgic vibe of this collection.

Why it’s hot: Fast fashion keeps getting ‘faster’ with evolving consumer trends and needs

“vote or die,”eat your heart out…

At the risk of stating the obvious – things have really changed in the last decade. And this will really blow your mind – they’ve also really changed in the last two.

A younger version of myself remembers MTV’s “Rock the Vote,” and whatever P Diddy was calling himself then’s “Vote or Die” campaign.

What’s interesting is how many BRANDS are now getting involved in the 2020 election.

Perhaps the boldest statement is Patagonia’s “Vote the Assholes Out”. But other brands like Foot Locker are converting stores into voter registration locations, Under Armour has created a voting microsite, “Run to Vote” where Americans can request an absentee ballot, and allegedly Snapchat is even giving people a mechanism to cast their vote from within its app.

Why It’s Hot

We’ve been talking about the importance of brand values for years, but now it seems it’s no longer an aspiration, but perhaps a necessity. What’s really interesting to see all these brands so active in (arguably) the most politicized election in US history. It’s one thing to support social issues and causes, but would seem quite another to be helping citizens register and vote. In fact, in a survey published this past June, only around 1/3 of consumers thought companies should share their position on voting/voter registration. So, it will be really interesting to see how this swell of activism will continue to apply to other, future issues.

The Future of Shopping Is Music To Our Ears

New cool thing alert! Haven’t brands been disrupted enough in 2020 already?

Introducing DroppTV:

“Utilizing AI & machine-learning algorithms capable of identifying apparel featured within video content, droppTV enables instant, click-to-buy purchasing, letting viewers shop directly inside the video and also browse artists’ virtual pop-up stores to seamlessly purchase merchandise like limited-edition streetwear.

Currently piloting with music videos, the platform aims to fuse entertainment with retail to create immersive and connected experiences directly linking brands and creators with their audiences. PSFK identified droppTV for research on innovative retail strategies for the disrupted 2020 holiday season—check out more inspiration here.”

Why it’s hot?

Monetizing identifying AI is a long time coming, being able to seamlessly integrate that technology into consumer behavior is a big step in a new direction.

Source: PSFK

Google Trends to the Rescue

Google search data has been found to help pinpoint COVID-19 hotspots before they flare-up. It’s not the first time researchers turn to the tech giant to deal with possible outbreaks. In 2009, health specialists used keyword search volume to tackle H1N1 pandemic outbreaks. Although physicians like to think patients reach out to them as soon as they’re feeling ill, the reality is that patients turn to WebMD and Dr. Google before going into offices.

Tracking COVID symptoms is only going to get harder as flu and allergy season kicks off, but researchers leaning on the search data think focusing on searches for GI (gastro-intestinal) related symptoms can help point them in the direction of an outbreak.

The team looked at Google Trends data for searches on a range of symptoms that dated from January 20 to April 20 of 2020. They found that searches for ageusia (loss of taste), loss of appetite, and diarrhea correlated with COVID-19 case numbers in states with high early infection rates like New York and New Jersey, with an approximate delay of four weeks. The signal was less clear for other symptoms.

Source: Popular Science

While search data is not a sure shot predictor – the majority of COVID patients don’t experience GI symptoms, it does merit further exploration.

Why it’s hot: Having the right combination of keywords to track could help mitigate outbreaks in the future.

 

 

The home fitness category is still booming

Digital fitness continues to surge.

  • Peloton’s Q4 earnings showed a 172% YoY jump in revenue, and its connected subscribers were up 113% YoY.
  • Apple just announced its virtual fitness product (Fitness Plus), available to the 1B+ Apple devices out there. 
  • Lululemon has already upped its projected revenue for Mirror from $100m to $150m.
  • Zwift, an indoor training app, reached unicorn status yesterday after a $450m funding round.
  • Tonal, a wall-mounted system that costs $2,995, lets users lift up to 200 pounds in “digital weights” raised $100m

The pandemic has exploded the market for digital fitness 

There are 62m gym memberships in the US and 183m globally, according to a 2019 report. But many people shifted to online workouts during the pandemic, and gyms have been slow to reopen. 

Data from Thinknum shows while 46 states have re-opened gyms, Facebook location mentions have “remained utterly stagnant for gyms.” Thinknum flags one outlier — Planet Fitness, which has tons of locations and is cheap.

Why it’s hot

With new technology capabilities and the need to move to digital, now is a time where fitness can truly be democratized. And it’ll also be interesting to see how this impacts fitness-adjacent categories (e.g. tech, wellness, etc.). Our phones have become the centerpiece for making every single aspect of our lives easier and more affordable. Fitness is no exception.

The refreshing taste of capitalism

PepsiCo is launching its newest beverage, the de-stressing and relaxation-promoting Driftwell.

The calorie- and sugar-free noncarbonated water, flavored with a hint of blackberry and lavender, contains 200 milligrams of L-theanine and 10% of the daily value of magnesium. Driftwell sprouted from an employee incubator program in January.

The 7.5-ounce mini cans, with the tagline “Sip into relaxation,” go on sale online in December—a notoriously stressful time, even more so during the coronavirus pandemic—and will be available in stores in the first quarter of 2021. The suggested retail price is $17.99 for a 10-pack.

PepsiCo touts findings by Gallup and the American Psychological Association in which 55% of Americans report having “high stress” throughout the day, while 45% of Americans say stress makes them lie awake at night, and 21% feel more stress when they’re unable to sleep.

Big Soda is taking hits from all sides. Bottled water is now outselling pop; rising obesity rates are a growing health concern; brands are emphasizing healthy eating and lifestyle choices; and various municipalities around the United States have even implemented so-called soda taxes.

Why its hot

More consumers are expecting their foods and beverages to do more – aid digestive health, energize, etc. So a beverage that helps you sleep is likely welcomed, especially these days. And what better source than PepsiCo? You can perk up in the morning and afternoon with a Pepsi, and now unwind before bed with one too.

Facebook is Watching… for Research

~100 Facebook employees will be wearing AR research glasses at work, at home, and in public around San Francisco and Seattle to gather data about how the glasses perceive the world and what kind of privacy considerations they may need to make people feel comfortable around them.

The goal of these? To help Facebook develop a pair of augmented reality glasses that can layer 3D graphics and information over the wearer’s view of the real world. The eventual goal is to create a device that will enable virtual social interactions, like being able to have a lifelike conversation with a faraway friend who’s projected across from you at your kitchen table.

The Facebook employees participating in “Project Aria” will use their test glasses to gather data that will help the company’s researchers and engineers understand how AR can work in terms of tech and of the privacy protection users will demand, obviously being a huge concern for Facebook product users.

How this research will work: The glasses capture video and audio from the wearer’s point of view while collecting data from the sensors in the glasses that track where the wearer’s eyes are going.

“We’ve just got to get it out of the lab and get it into real-world conditions, in terms of [learning about] light, in terms of weather, and start seeing what that data looks like with the long-term goal of helping us inform [our product],” says Andrew Bosworth, vice president and head of Facebook Reality Labs, who is overseeing the project.

The research disclaimer: The wearer of the research glasses will wear a shirt that identifies them as Facebook employees working on an AR research project and it will show a website where people can get more information. The research glasses will display a noticeable white light that indicates when data is being collected, and the devices will have a physical mute button that will shut down the sensors and microphones.

“We’ll also start to think through the privacy conversation that’s going to be so important when we get to augmented reality,” Bosworth says.

Why it’s hot? Facebook is constantly at the center of data privacy controversies and this will likely bring up the same concerns. Time will tell how “secure” this data is.

Source: FastCo

The rise of “dark stores”

Whole Foods “opened” a new “store” that you can’t walk into or shop at.

Located in Brooklyn and slightly smaller than a typical Whole Foods, the store is dedicated solely to fulfilling online orders. It’s the company’s first purpose-built online-only store. With longer aisles, no salad bar, and missing those checkout candy displays, the store will be used to pack up online orders, which have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Amazon, which owns Whole Foods, says its grocery sales tripled, year over year, for the second quarter of 2020.

But this is not just a pandemic-related reaction. Though six of its stores were temporarily converted to handle only online orders, this new dedicated online-only store had been in the works for more than a year, according to company officials. And it’s not alone. More retailers are accommodating the shift of shopping from in-store to online by turning their physical locations into so-called “dark stores”—miniature warehouse-like spaces where online orders can be packed for pickup or delivery. Retail experts say this is just the start of a major trend.

“Every chain in the world will be doing this in the future. And the future is now, because COVID-19 has pushed the timeline up for a number of these kinds of initiatives,” says Ken Morris, managing partner at Cambridge Retail Advisors.

Unlike the new Whole Foods store, not all of these facilities need to be purpose-built. Grocery chains such as Stop & Shop and Hy-Vee, based in Iowa, are already experimenting with turning stores dark. Other retailers are converting stores into micro fulfillment centers, Morris says. Walmart has one in New Hampshire. Bed, Bath & Beyond plans to convert a quarter of its locations into dark stores. Some shopping malls are also being converted into fulfillment centers.

Though nongrocery retailers are turning stores dark as more shopping happens online, Morris expects grocery stores and their perishable products will still draw at least some of the in-person market. He says grocery chains will eventually move to a “semidark” or hybrid approach, in which shoppers can submit most of their order online for pickup but still roam the aisles to select items such as produce or deli meats.

Key to this change is robotics, Morris says. Even without the social distancing rules of the pandemic, the typical grocery store can handle only so many customers. Warehouse technology startups such as Fabric and Alert Innovation are already beginning to work with retailers and grocers on integrating robotics and adding more product into smaller, robot-only spaces. “These things are very quick. They can pick 15,000 orders a day, and they do it in a small footprint,” Morris says.

There’s even the potential of making the robots part of the theater of the shopping experience, Morris says. “Some grocery chains and drug stores are considering putting these things center, glassed-in, in the middle of the building so people can actually see it happening,” he says.

For now, the transition will be more gradual. Morris says the drop-off in physical shopping during the pandemic led many chain retailers to temporarily turn stores dark. But as the pandemic drags on and online grocery shopping becomes more common, he expects other grocery chains will begin to analyze their online orders and the population density near their stores and decide that some locations may be better used as dark stores.

“Every metro area will have some of these,” he says. “In the next five years, this will explode.”

Source: FastCo

Why it’s hot: This seems like a natural progression for retail stores, especially during this pandemic. I expect many other stores to follow Whole Foods’ lead.

Retiring jeweler hides $1M of remaining merchandise around Michigan; sells access to the clues

In a great example of re-evaluating value, a Michigan jeweler has closed his store, hid all his merchandise in various places across the state, and is selling tickets to clues to find his hidden “treasure”. He went from selling objects, to selling adventure. And if he prices his clues right, he’ll probably make more money than he would from selling the jewelry itself. The first few “quests”, which began in August, seem to have sold out.

Mlive.com:

A Michigan jeweler has cleaned out his store in the name of adventure.

Johnny Perri, owner of J&M Jewelers in Macomb County, and his wife Amy Perri buried $1 million in gold, silver, jewels and antiques across Michigan – from Metro Detroit to the Upper Peninsula. Starting Aug. 1, the treasure will be up for grabs to registered Treasure Quest hunters.

After 23 years, J&M Jewelers is closing following a months-long forced temporary closure related to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The monthly Treasure Quests will provide a new source of income for the Perri family – registration for each hunt is $50.

From Johnny’s Treasure Quest site:

“I have buried not only my entire jewelry store but thousands upon thousands of dollars of gold, silver, diamonds & antiques in various locations in Michigan from the bottom to the upper peninsula. Everything I have buried has a history and many memories attached to them that I have let go and placed in the ground for you to discover❤️
– The links below are treasure quest adventures in specific locations in Michigan along with a starting date in which the adventure will begin.
– Everyone anywhere is permitted to purchase a ticket up until 24 hours prior to the adventure start date.
– Refunds are available only up until 24 hours of the adventure start date.
– You do not just have to live in Michigan or in the specific region location where the treasure is buried to participate. Although anyone may purchase tickets, they will be limited at my discretion.
– you will literally be unearthing physical, real treasure from the ground with the exception that I did not hide it in the ground but it could be hanging from a tree (for example).
– All treasure that I have buried/hidden will be directly under or next to (if not buried) a literal painted “X”
Please be respectful of property by not digging up the town. “X” will always mark the spot.
– I have inserted advanced GPS trackers into each treasure simply so I can know if a treasure has been discovered. If you discover the treasure, please either leave the GPS unit behind where the treasure was discovered or more preferably contact me and I’ll arrange a way to get it from you:)
– Posting or sharing clues on social media and/or through any other means to a third party is strictly prohibited. Consequences of these said actions will immediately disqualify you from the current and any future adventure quest treasure hunts. Furthermore your ticket will be revoked and any retrieval attempts to acquire the treasure thereafter will be met with legal action. In other words, please DO NOT share any clues for any reason to anyone other then your team and yourself.”

Why it’s hot:

1. A reminder that it’s essential to understand where your value lies, and to always be aware of opportunities to create value when things change.

2. This concepts taps into two very strong impulses within the American psyche:

the call to adventure

and

the chance to strike it rich

3. It’s the perfect moment (covid restictions/terrible news daily) for those looking for some fun and diversion, and looking to get out of the house.

Source: USA Today

Thai Airways Offers In-Flight Meals in Their New Pop-Up Diner

Thai Airways International Pcl’s offices transformed their cafeteria into a new pop-up restaurant to offer customers a recreation of an on-board dining experience.

While most of its planes are grounded to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the airline is using this opportunity to recoup some lost revenue while staying connected to their customers. The restaurant serves 2,000 meals a day.

Diners are greeted by cabin crew in full uniform when they enter. The restaurant is decorated with airplane parts and seats for an authentic feel, and photo opportunities. Each decoration also has a QR code attached so visitors can look up information about the parts.

Why It’s Hot

As customers are counting down the days until they can travel again, this fun experience is a great way to keep Thai Airways top of mind.

Source

QVC is back on top? Facebook and Amazon bring us Live Shopping with Influencers

You could already get hot deals on Amazon through Amazon Live. Facebook is now following suit.

Enter FB/IG live shopping. Where social sellers can sell items live in real time. It harkens back to a simpler time, but now instead of calling and paying in increments you click and afterpay?

Why it’s hot?

Utilizing user behavior that’s so native with new digital tools is exciting. The team is interested in seeing if this helps brands improve their ecommerce objectives.

Rent your wardrobe through Wardrobe

Clothing has seen some grand shifts over time. First we had retail that churned new styles every season to churn more every season then mid season. Then fast fashion brands come onto the scene to accommodate the ever wanting consumers eye to flip social media looks. Then we realized how completely unsustainable that was.

So then renting wardrobe became a thing with Rent the Runway and Haute Look. And thrifting is a blast from the past now current future trendy thing to do as we up-cycle our way to a better environment. (Which is secretly not that much better but it is better than buying from Zara). Sustainability is a hot topic, from all the emissions we have spewed out to get it. And from fashion it requires answers like Rent the Runway, Le Tote, Vince Unfold and many others, including now, Wardrobe.

Wardrobe is a, launched last year in NYC growing national, peer to peer clothing rental service.

Wardrobe has users take their “extra high quality” clothes from their own closets, and rent them out to other people. Once someone has rented an item from your closet, it goes to a dry cleaning facility, where it’s cleaned and then sent to the renter. After the item is worn, it’s returned to local dry cleaners to then clean and house there.

This is different from other renting brands as it’s entirely community based and relies on local dry cleaners to help ensure part of a consumer worry which is cleanliness and hygiene. Wardrobe doesn’t have to house any inventory, or create and maintain the worlds largest dry cleaning facility, (Rent the Runway). As the Dry cleaners are the ones holding on to, and shipping out each clothing piece.

Although not revolutionary to the game as Tulerie offers the same peer to peer clothing rental service. They do require an interview before you can fill your closet with other peoples clothes. No word on dry cleaning and cleanliness.

What makes Wardrobe different is that they don’t leave it to the users to send out items and maintain it’s hygiene. Reliability from someone looking to rent out their clothes as a side gig becomes difficult to maintain and then whether or not the clothing item was taken to a dry cleaner was harder to pin down. Wardrobe took this into their own hands, and brought this tricky part in house. And owners of the clothes maintain their ownership, and possibly end up selling it on another platform. Which Wardrobe hopes to take in house in the future.

Why it’s hot:

With Covid, consumer mindset has shifted to be geared towards community, locality, and transacting for purpose.

Wardrobe is apart of that larger conversation of sustainability and living in excess, but then relies on local businesses to upkeep. It seems like a win, win, win, win. You aren’t just apart of a community, you’re apart of an ecosystem of reuse, that aids in a locally driven business, serves your want, and by serving your want you are apart of solving a problem.

Source: Fast Company

Walmart tests drone deliveries for household goods and groceries

Walmart has started making its first deliveries by drone, launching a small pilot program this week in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The retailer will be delivering “select grocery and household essential items” using automated drones operated by Israeli startup Flytrex. Walmart has offered few details on the program, including how many drones are involved in the pilot and what checks (if any) customers need to make before receiving a delivery.

Each of the drones can fly at speeds of 32 mph, travel distances of 6.2 miles in a round trip, and carry up to 6.6 pounds (that’s roughly “6-8 hamburgers,” according to converted units offered on Flytrex’s website).

But don’t expect to see drones from Walmart (or any other retailer) buzzing over city streets any time soon. As Flytrex mentions on its website, its aircraft are “designed for the suburbs.”

Why it’s Hot:

There’s been talk of using drone delivery for years now, but was COVID-19 the final push toward making it a reality? And, what would it take for this to become the standard for delivery (even if just in suburban/rural areas)?

Source

Chess Streaming Wins the Pandemic

The New York times reports: “since the pandemic began, viewership of live chess games has soared. From March through August, people watched 41.2 million hours of chess on Twitch, four times as many hours as in the previous six months, according to the analytics website SullyGnome.”

Especially popular is Hiraku Nakamura, a top chess grandmaster known for his game-time banter and fan engagement. Nakamura, who gained nearly all of his half million Twitch followers since the pandemic began, is one of the first chess players to make an additional 6 figure income by joining a professional e-sports team.

A screen shot of Mr. Nakamura’s Twitch stream.

Why it’s hot: Somehow gamer interest has been re-directed from the hottest new games to one of the world’s oldest. This could create surprising new opportunities for brands as sponsors of a game that has the advantage of being very well known and strongly associated with intelligence.

Fornite Channels User Base to Take on Apple and Google

As part of a public fight against Apple and Google, who monopolize phone app sales, Fornite–the super popular battle-royale-style mutli-player game–has created a tournament called the #FreeFortnite Cup. The tournament includes prizes and a new character ‘tart tycoon’, all designed to put pressure on Apple by to change it App store policies.

Apple's Fortnite feud and Microsoft xCloud ban have put the future of  iPhone gaming in jeopardy - The Verge

Why it’s hot: 

Increasing recognition that tech giants have monopolistic power over those who use their platform is not new. But these battles usually play out in court. Epic is making use of a new strategy–leveraging the considerable enthusiasm of its users through marketing and in-game experience to influence the actions of another corporation.

What won’t Amazon know about us…?

Amazon Announces a New Fitness Tracker

Amazon’s new fitness band adds body fat, movement, sleep and mood to the mountain of data Amazon is amassing. Whether streaming on Amazon Prime, shopping on Amazon.com, buying groceries at Whole Foods, Amazon is ready to…errrr…help?

Why it’s Hot – The increasing convergence of our digital and analog lives is brining the questions of privacy and data sovereignty to the forefront, while also creating new potential opportunities for marketers (just think about what a partnership between Microsoft and Walmart to buy TikTok could mean).

From The Verge:

mazonAmazon is getting into the health gadget market with a new fitness band and subscription service called Halo. Unlike the Apple Watch or even most basic Fitbits, the Amazon Halo band doesn’t have a screen. The app that goes along with it comes with the usual set of fitness tracking features along with two innovative — and potentially troubling — ideas: using your camera to create 3D scans for body fat and listening for the emotion in your voice.

The Halo band will cost $99.99 and the service (which is required for Halo’s more advanced features) costs $3.99 per month. Amazon is launching it as an invite-only early access program today with an introductory price of $64.99 that includes six months of the service for free. The Halo service is a separate product that isn’t part of Amazon Prime.

The lack of a screen on the Halo band is the first indicator that Amazon is trying to carve out a niche for itself that’s focused a little less on sports and exercise and a little more on lifestyle changes. Alongside cardio, sleep, body fat, and voice tone tracking, a Halo subscription will offer a suite of “labs” developed by partners. They’re short challenges designed to improve your health habits — like meditation, improving your sleep habits, or starting up basic exercise routines.

The Halo band “is not a medical device,” Amazon tells me. As such, it hasn’t submitted the device to the FDA for any sort of approval, including the lighter-touch “FDA clearance” that so many other fitness bands have used.

The Amazon Halo intro video | Source: Amazon

THE HALO BAND HARDWARE

TheThe Halo Band consists of a sensor module and a band that clicks into it on top. It’s a simple concept and one we’ve seen before. The lack of a display means that if you want to check your steps or the time, you’ll need to strap something else to your wrist or just check your phone.

The three color options for the Halo Band
The three color options for the Halo Band
 Amazon
Amazon will sell lots of different band styles and colors
Amazon will sell lots of different band styles and colors
 Amazon

The band lacks increasingly standard options like GPS, Wi-Fi, or a cellular radio, another sign that it’s meant to be a more laid-back kind of tracker. It has an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a heart rate monitor, two microphones, an LED indicator light, and a button to turn the microphones on or off. The microphones are not for speaking to Alexa, by the way, they’re there for the voice tone feature. There is explicitly no Alexa integration.

It communicates with your phone via Bluetooth, and it should work equally well with both iPhones and Android phones. The three main band colors that will be sold are onyx (black), mineral (light blue), and rose gold (pink-ish).

There will of course be a series of optional bands so you can choose one to match your style — and all of them bear no small resemblance to popular Apple Watch bands. The fabric bands will cost $19.99 and the sport bands will be $15.99.

Amazon intends for users to leave the Halo Band on all the time: the battery should last a full week and the sensor is water resistant up to 5ATM. Amazon calls it “swimproof.”

But where the Halo service really differentiates itself is in two new features, called Body and Tone. The former uses your smartphone camera to capture a 3D scan of your body and then calculate your body fat, and the latter uses a microphone on the Halo Band to listen to the tone of your voice and report back on your emotional state throughout the day.

Halo’s body scanning feature, which calculates body fat percentage.
Halo’s body scanning feature, which calculates body fat percentage.
 Amazon

BODY SCANS

BodyBody scans work with just your smartphone’s camera. The app instructs you to wear tight-fitting clothing (ideally just your underwear) and then stand back six feet or so from your camera. Then it takes four photos (front, back, and both sides) and uploads them to Amazon’s servers where they’re combined into a 3D scan of your body that’s sent back to your phone. The data is then deleted from Amazon’s servers.

Halo scans your body with four photos
Halo scans your body with four photos
 Amazon video

Once you have the 3D scan, Amazon uses machine learning to analyze it and calculate your body fat percentage. Amazon argues that body fat percentage is a more reliable indicator of health than either weight or body mass index. Amazon also claims that smart scales that try to measure body fat using bioelectrical impedance are not as accurate as its scan. Amazon says it did an internal study to back up those claims and may begin submitting papers to peer-reviewed medical journals in the future.

Finally, once you have your scan, the app will give you a little slider you can drag your finger on to have it show what you would look like with more or less body fat.

Halo uses AI in Amazon’s cloud to create the 3D scan and calculate body fat percentage
Halo uses AI in Amazon’s cloud to create the 3D scan and calculate body fat percentage
 Amazon video

That feature is meant to be educational and motivational, but it could also be literally dangerous for people with body dysmorphic disorder, anorexia, or other self-image issues. I asked Amazon about this directly and the company says that it has put in what it hopes are a few safeguards: the app recommends you only scan yourself every two weeks, it won’t allow the slider to show dangerously low levels of body fat, and it has information about how low body fat can increase your risk for certain health problems. Finally, although anybody 13 years of age and up can use the Halo Band, the body scan feature will only be allowed for people 18 or older.

Halo listens to your voice and guesses at your emotional state
Halo listens to your voice and guesses at your emotional state
 Amazon video

TRACKING THE TONE OF YOUR VOICE

TheThe microphone on the Amazon Halo band isn’t meant for voice commands; instead it listens to your voice and reports back on what it believes your emotional state was throughout the day. If you don’t opt in, the microphone on the Band doesn’t do anything at all.

Once you opt in, the Halo app will have you read some text back to it so that it can train a model on your voice, allowing the Halo band to only key in on your tone and not those around you. After that, the band will intermittently listen to your voice and judge it on metrics like positivity and energy.

It’s a passive and intermittent system, meaning that you can’t actively ask it to read your tone, and it’s not listening all of the time. You can also mute the mic at any time by pressing the button until a red blinking LED briefly appears to show you it’s muted.

Amazon is quick to note that your voice is never uploaded to any servers and never heard by any humans. Instead, the band sends its audio snippets to your phone via Bluetooth, and it’s analyzed there. Amazon says that the Halo app immediately deletes the voice samples after it analyzes it for your emotional state.

It picks up on the pitch, intensity, rhythm, and tempo of your voice and then categorizes them into “notable moments” that you can go back and review throughout the day. Some of the emotional states include words like hopeful, elated, hesitant, bored, apologetic, happy, worried, confused, and affectionate.

We asked Amazon whether this Tone feature was tested across differing accents, gender, and cultures. A spokesperson says that it “has been a top priority for our team” but that “if you have an accent you can use Tone but your results will likely be less accurate. Tone was modeled on American English but it’s only day one and Tone will continue to improve.”

The Halo app’s main screen
The Halo app’s main screen
 Amazon

DATA PRIVACY

BothBoth the Body and Tone features are innovative uses of applied AI, but they are likely to set off any number of privacy alarm bells. Amazon says that it is being incredibly careful with user data. The company will post a document detailing every type of data, where it’s stored, and how to delete it.

Every feature is opt-in, easy to turn off, and it’s easy to delete data. For example, there’s no requirement you create a body scan and even if you do, human reviewers will never see those images. Amazon says the most sensitive data like body scans and Tone data are only stored locally (though photos do need to temporarily be uploaded so Amazon’s servers can build the 3D model). Amazon isn’t even allowing Halo to integrate with other fitness apps like Apple Health at launch.

Some of the key points include:

  • Your Halo profile is distinct from your Amazon account — and will need to be individually activated with a second factor like a text message so that anybody else that might share your Amazon Prime can’t get to it.
  • You can download and delete any data that’s stored in the cloud at any time, or reset your account to zero.
  • Body scans and tone data can be individually deleted separately from the rest of your health data.
  • Body scans are only briefly uploaded to Amazon’s servers then deleted “within 12 hours” and scan images are never shared to other apps like the photo gallery unless you explicitly export an image.
  • Voice recordings are analyzed locally on your phone and then deleted. “Speech samples are processed locally and never sent to the cloud,” Amazon says, adding that “Tone data won’t be used for training purposes.”
  • Data can be shared with third parties, including some partners like WW (formerly Weight Watchers). Data generated by the “labs” feature is only shared as anonymous aggregate info.
Halo’s activity tracker does more than count steps
Halo’s activity tracker does more than count steps
 Amazon

ACTIVITY AND SLEEP TRACKING

TheThe body scanning and tone features might be the most flashy (or, depending on your perspective, most creepy) parts of Halo, but the thing you’ll likely spend the most time watching is your activity score.

Amazon’s Halo app tracks your cardio fitness on a weekly basis instead of daily — allowing for rest days. It does count steps, but on a top level what you get is an abstracted score (and, of course, a ring to complete) that’s more holistic. Just as Google did in 2018, Amazon has worked with the American Heart Association to develop the abstracted Activity score.

The Halo band uses its heart monitor to distinguish between intense, moderate, and light activity. The app combines those to ensure you’re hitting a weekly target. Instead of the Apple Watch’s hourly “stand” prompts, the Halo app tracks how long you have been “sedentary.” If you go for more than 8 hours without doing much (not counting sleep), the app will begin to deduct from your weekly activity score.

Halo’s sleep tracking feature
Halo’s sleep tracking feature
 Amazon

The Halo band can automatically detect activities like walking and running, but literally every other type of exercise will need to be manually entered into the app. The whole system feels less designed for workout min-maxers and more for people who just want to start being more active in the first place.

Speaking of heart tracking, the Halo band doesn’t proactively alert you to heart conditions like a-fib, nor does it do fall detection.

The Halo band’s sleep tracking similarly tries to create an abstracted score, though you can dig in and view details on your REM sleep and other metrics. One small innovation that the Halo band shares with the new Fitbit is temperature monitoring. It uses a three-day baseline when you are sleeping and from there can show a chart of your average body temperature when you wake up.

The Halo Band’s sensor array
The Halo Band’s sensor array
 Amazon

HALO LABS, PARTNERSHIPS, AND THE SUBSCRIPTION

Finally,Finally, Amazon has partnered with several third parties to create services and studies to go along with the Halo service. For example, if your health care provider’s system is compatible with Cerner, you can choose to share your body fat percentage with your provider’s electronic medical records system. Amazon says it will also be a fully subsidized option for the John Hancock Vitality wellness program.

The flagship partnership is with WW, which syncs up data from Halo into WW’s own FitPoints system. WW will also be promoting the Halo Band itself to people who sign up for its service.

There are dozens of lower-profile partnerships, which will surface in the Halo app as “Labs.” Many of the labs will surface as four-week “challenges” designed to get you to change your health habits. Partners creating Labs range from Mayo Clinic, Exhale, Aaptiv, Lifesum, Headspace, and more. So there might be a lab encouraging you to give yoga a try, or a set of advice on sleeping better like kicking your pet out of your bedroom.

Amazon says each Lab needs to be developed with “scientific evidence” of its effectiveness and Amazon will audit them. Data crated from these challenges will be shared with those partners, but only in an aggregated, anonymous way.

Virtually all the features discussed here are part of the $3.99/month Halo subscription. If you choose to let it lapse, the Halo band will still do basic activity and sleep tracking.

In charging a monthly subscription, Amazon is out on a limb compared to most of its competitors. Companies like Fitbit and Withings offer some of the same features you can get out of the Halo system, including sleep tracking and suggestions for improving your fitness. They also have more full-featured bands with displays and other functionality. And of course there’s the Apple Watch, which will have deeper and better integrations with the iPhone than will ever be possible for the Halo band.

Overall, Halo is a curious mix. Its hardware is intentionally less intrusive and less feature-rich than competitors, and its pricing strategy puts Amazon on the hook for creating new, regular content to keep people subscribed (exercise videos seem like a natural next step). Meanwhile, the body scanning feature goes much further than other apps in directly digitizing your self-image — which is either appealing or disturbing depending on your relationship to your self image. And the emotion tracking with Tone is completely new and more than a little weird.

The mix is so eclectic that I can’t possibly guess who it might appeal to. People who are more serious about exercise and fitness will surely want more than what’s on offer in the hardware itself, and people who just sort of want to be a little more active may balk at the subscription price. And since the Halo band doesn’t offer the same health alerts like fall detection or abnormal heart rate detection, using it as a more passive health monitor isn’t really an option either.

That doesn’t mean the Halo system can’t succeed. Amazon’s vision of a more holistic health gadget is appealing, and some of its choices in how it aggregates and presents health data is genuinely better than simple step counting or ring completion.

We won’t really know how well the Halo system does for some time, either. Amazon’s opening it up as an early access program for now, which means you need to request to join rather than just signing up and buying it.

KFC censors its slogan in attempt at relevance during Covid

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Markeitng Week:

KFC is temporarily dropping the ‘It’s finger lickin’ good’ slogan it has used in its advertising for 64 years and launching its first global campaign in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

A campaign launching today (24 August), created by agency Mother, shows various images of KFC– including an outdoor ad and a number of shots of its infamous bucket of chicken – with the ‘finger lickin’’ part of its slogan pixelated out. It ends with the line: “That thing we always say? Ignore it. For now.”

The campaign will run across TV, press, social media and digital. Outdoor ads will feature KFC buckets with disclaimers, saying things like: “Lick fingers at own risk.”

KFC UK and Ireland’s head of retail and advertising, Kate Wall, tells Marketing Week: “We’ve been using that slogan for over 64 years and it’s arguably one of the most famous in the world – for a reason, we know our guests always lick the crumbs off their fingers because the chicken is so delicious.

“This year has thrown everyone – all brands – and we took a bit of a global stance that actually right now our slogan is probably the most inappropriate slogan out there, so we need to stop saying it.”

The decision to both drop the slogan and run a global campaign was prompted by the insight that encouraging finger licking was “inappriopriate” in the middle of a pandemic.

Why it’s (not) hot

Not This premise is a bit of a stretch considering licking your fingers is not a vector of transmission, and it’s a little condescending to the public, as in, did anyone really need this message from KFC? Brands want credit for seeming to care about the world and its people, and sometimes the ways they go about eliciting this credit is tone deaf or just off the mark.

Hot Removing part of the tagline does encourage the million+ viewers on Youtube alone to try to remember it, which further instills their slogan in their minds, so that part is clever.

Source: Marketing Week

Burger King angers Twitch streamers with stunt campaign

Burger King has been known for creating campaigns that tap into new technology to create PR, sometimes risking backlash (remember their tv spot that purposefully activated Google Home smart speaker in people’s homes?). Well, this time Burger King angered Twitch streamers by exploiting a donation feature that lets streamers collect donations from fans.

The donation feature in Twitch was designed to incentivize streamers to continue creating content that their audience appreciate by tipping them. The way it works is that a viewer can have a typed message read out aloud by a computer whenever they donate money to a streamer. In this case, Burger King targeted some of the most popular streamers and used a bot to donate $5 (a BK value meal) to have its message (unsolicited by both the streamer and the viewer) read out loud to everyone watching.

There’s been huge backlash and the campaign merely lasted a few hours on Twitch. Researches show gamers tend to be more open to advertising than the average person but not when done in such a scummy way that disrupts the experience to everyone involved and takes advantage of talent/influencers who have worked hard to build their audiences.

“Unlike other audiences, consumers in the video game arena are very discerning, protective and don’t appreciate marketing stunts that disrupt their experiences or minimize the work of their favorite streamers”

“Seeing a giant brand like Burger King coming into the space and marginalizing both the audience and the talent certainly doesn’t land well with the people they are trying to market to,” says Chris Erb, CEO of gaming-focused agency Tripleclix.

 

Sometimes, there’s a (not so) fine line between being a savvy and a scummy marketer. For brands to have success with these consumers they need to actually build relationships with gamers and their influencers, and not market to them.

Lego’s Collab with IKEA Makes Parents and Kids Happy

Kids of love Lego. Parents? Maybe not so much. Lego can make a big mess and they hurt to step on.

To provide a creative solution to this problem, Lego partnered with Ikea to create a storage system that doubles as a play structure. The new storage solution, called Bygglek, is deceptively simple. The white boxes come in four sizes and are designed to store hundreds of bricks. The ingenious part is that their tops and interiors are covered in Lego studs, so they can easily be stacked or built upon. (It also makes it easy to move the entire structure.)

The two big boxes will come in a traditional Ikea flat pack, but it’s designed to be so simple to assemble that 5-year-olds will be able to do it. The new line will be available in the U.S. in October; prices start at $9.99 for a set of three small boxes, and go to $14.99 for the largest box.As part of this line, Ikea will also sell a 201-piece Lego brick set for $14.99. When curating the bricks for this set, the designers deliberately choose less complex Lego elements to ensure that even the youngest child could use them. They didn’t include building instructions—these pieces and the boxes they come in are designed to spur a child’s imagination.

Why its hot

Storage devices for Lego aren’t really new. Most kids have had something to put them all in, but not all storage is an actual playset. It solves a unique problem – give kids something to store their Lego in and play with at the same time.

The DNC’s Role Call Goes Viral

Rhode Island’s Calamari is having a moment!

https://twitter.com/business/status/1295926733921820678

The DNC goes digital in our Coronavirus/zoom marathon era. Instead of what is usually groups of delegates gathered in an arena with their respective state name, we got a demonstration of the diversity of humanity and geography that is the USA. This was a breath of fresh air to those who have been feeling fed up with politics.

Why it’s hot?

What could have been very technically tricky was considered a huge success. A typically very skeptical Twitter agees. It made a really stagnant tradition into an uplifting moment.

 

 

 

A New Frontier for Beauty Brands and Inclusion

With “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” capturing so much time and attention during lockdown, beauty and fashion brands have discovered a unique integration opportunity. Following the lead of skincare brands Glossier and Tatcha who have added products to the game, and fashion brands like Marc Jacobs and Coach who have created virtual looks, Procter & Gamble’s Gillette Venus razor brand is entering the scene.

Venus noticed the lack of customizations available for player avatars and decided to design new skin-inclusive options. They created eight skin tones and 19 skin types that can be combined in more than 250 ways, showing freckles, acne, hair, cellulite, scars and stretch marks, along with vitiligo, tattoos, psoriasis and differently abled bodies.

To further engage with their audience, Venus will host an event hosted by a surprise celebrity on the virtual beaches of Animal Crossing on August 31st.

Why It’s Hot

Venus is making a powerful statement that shows how far they’ve pushed their brand from their original commercials featuring “perfect” models with no body hair in sight. Capitalizing on the video gaming and virtual live event trends is a nice way to round out their new campaign and continue to make real connections with their customers.

Source

Google Maps tracks forest fires in near-real-time

The Verge:

Type in the name of an ongoing wildfire into Google search, and the site will now bring up a map featuring a near-real-time boundary of the fire. Google revealed the feature today, which was piloted in California last year and will now be available across the US.

Google Maps will also update users with road closures and provide them with directions that help them avoid danger and roadblocks. If someone is looking at an area near a blaze on Google Maps, they’ll get an alert.

Getting accurate information to people near a wildfire can save lives. It’s also a constant challenge for emergency responders because the situation can change rapidly, while hearsay online can quickly drown out reputable sources. Google developed the new mapping feature with input from the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) as part of an effort to make important updates easier to find.

The problem came to the attention of Yossi Matias, vice president of engineering at Google, in 2010 during the Mount Carmel fire near Haifa, Israel. Matias was working in Google’s Haifa office when his team saw billowing smoke outside. A Google search failed to turn up anything more helpful than what they could already assess from their windows. “While we did find some details confirming what we already knew—a large fire was taking place outside of our door—we experienced a potentially life-impacting information gap,” Matias wrote in a blog post announcing the new mapping feature today.

Now, the same Google search would result in more curated content. The scare Matias and his team experienced led to the development of Google’s SOS Alerts in 2017. Beneath a red banner labeled “SOS Alert,” the search results offer top stories, followed by official updates for emergency situations. Starting today, searches for wildfires will also include a more detailed map showing the boundaries of an active blaze.

Why it’s hot:

As the climate crisis worsens, how much more will we rely on information services such as this? And what forms will that information take with regards to mass migration, air pollution, heat waves, droughts, floods, etc?

Will our phones help us survive? No doubt those with access to such services will be advantaged.

The BA Test Kitchen Loses Their Viral Video Talent over Pay Equality

Bon Appétit has not released a video on its beloved Test Kitchen channel since June 5, amid a reckoning of how the food brand treats and compensates its employees of color.

And once the video brand returns, it will look much different than what its six million YouTube subscribers were accustomed to.

Six members of Bon Appétit’s 13 on-camera talent have announced that they will no longer appear in videos with the food magazine’s Test Kitchen brand: Rick Martinez, Sohla El-Waylly, Priya Krishna, Gaby Melian, Molly Baz, and Carla Lalli Music.

Martinez, El-Waylly, Krishna, and Melian said in statements that Condé Nast’s lack of commitment to diversity and inclusion led to their departure. Baz and Music said they will leave out of solidarity with their peers.”

https://twitter.com/lallimusic/status/1293566520476471296

Which bears the question: Why not just make pay equity happen? And fast?

Gizmodo theorizes that Conde Nast higher ups don’t understand the work and detail that go into videos, as well as the heart. They were data driven in these decisions but video is mostly art.

Why It’s Hot?

Inflexible corporations need to not only put their money where their mouth is, but to do it fast. There is a price to pay for not flexing with culture, and minority groups are going to be more vocal about workplace inequity. There is a lot of humanity in the BA test kitchen, and sadly the data driven decision-making has soured BA’s audience on their content network.

 

 

Creating an Index for Dynamic Pricing

Lifestyle, the sexual wellness brand has found a new pricing model. Offering discounts on the brand’s products based on Australian’s search data for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s) on Publicly Traded. The STI index, which tracks real-time searches for six STI’s serves to automatically adjusts the price of condoms: the higher the index, the lower the price. Conversely, when searches go down, the prices go up (but not above retail value). Customers can either purchase condoms through the index or sign up for price alerts via email or SMS.

The initiative is educational in nature – hoping people will nurture their sexual wellbeing in the same way they nurture their finances.

Taking cues from the stock market model, the LifeStyles Publicly Traded Campaign hopes to boost education and incentivise safe sex at the very same time. It works by correlating condom price fluctuations with real-time Google search data in relation to STIs.

Source: Man of Many

Why it’s hot: Although dynamic pricing is not a new marketing technique (Alaska Airlines and Bose have both done it), this is a great interactive way of engaging and educating your customer base.

Earth Speakr Gets Kids Involved in Advocacy

Artist Olafur Eliasson, in collaboration with digital agency AKQA, created an app called Earth Speakr that kids can use to articulate their feelings about the state of the planet, and the associate climate crisis that older generations have placed on their shoulders. The app uses AR to mirror the kids’ expressions, from a video they record, with a cartoon face that can be placed on anything, from a sewage drain to a tree to a hot dog.

As Elliason describes the app, “It’s about giving the planet a voice through the people who are going to inherit it.”

After kids record a message, the parent can place the “message,” which appears as a glass sphere, anywhere they feel it should be heard on a map of the world (also available on the corresponding site). Users can then click on different messages and share them. The messages on the map vary from the silly (one video asks, “Hello, who are you? Why??”) to the earnest to some that are not super audible.

RZA of Wu-Tang puts the ‘good’ in Good Humor with new inclusive ice cream truck jingle

The well-known ice cream truck jingle has a racist past so Good Humor partnered with RZA to create a more inclusive jingle as a free alternative to the problematic tune “Turkey in the Straw.”

‘Turkey in the Straw’s’ melody originated from British and Irish folk songs, which had no racial connotations. But the song itself was first performed (and gained popularity) in American minstrel shows in the 1800s. Some songs using its same melody contained highly offensive, racist lyrics,” Good Humor explains.

While Good Humor hasn’t owned food trucks since the 1970s and didn’t create this jingle, they wanted to “be part of the solution on this issue” and create a more inclusive tune that can “continue to spread joy to everyone for the next 100 years.”

Good Humor will provide educational programming to teach drivers how to update the soundtrack on their trucks but also explain the importance of doing so. They’ll also be working with the company that makes ice-cream truck music boxes, to pre-install the new option.

Good Humor x RZA: a new jingle for a new era

In a behind-the-scenes clip, the RZA spoke about his new jingle, saying, “We wanted to make a melody that includes all community, that’s good for every driver, that’s good for every kid. And I’m proud to say, for the first time in a long time, a new ice cream jingle will be made available to trucks all across the country, in perpetuity. That mean’s forever — like Wu-Tang’s forever. And I can assure you, this one is made with love.

RZA’s new jingle “drew inspiration from his childhood memories of chasing after ice cream trucks on Staten Island — blending traditional ice cream truck sounds with jazz and hip-hop elements.”

Outside of taking a stand to be on the right side of history and our culture, this is also a smart move by Good Humor since it partnered with such an iconic and hugely influential musician, helping to modernize the brand.

Why it’s hot: The best advertising doesn’t just sell, it becomes part of the culture.

Sources: Rolling Stones, LA Times

Adidas celebrates Damian Lillard’s 61 Points

Adidas is celebrating its latest superstar’s success with a surprise markdown on his entire line of sneakers. Adidas ambassador Damian Lillard dropped 61 points in his NBA game last night, leading his Portland Trail Blazers to a 134-131 win over the Dallas Mavericks. The 61 points tied Lillard’s career-best performance, and marked the third 60-point game for the point guard this season.

To celebrate Lillard’s big accomplishment, Adidas has made his Dame 6 sneakers available for just $61 for a limited time. The shoe, which normally retails for $110+, is on-sale across the Adidas site, with multiple sizes, styles and colorways available at the $61 price point.

Why it’s hot:

  • Demonstrates genuine support Adidas has for it’s ambassadors. Brands these days are all trying to creating meaningful relationships with influencers, celebrities, athletes, but it often comes off forced or only during product launch moments.
  • Ability to put something in market in real-time. This deal went live soon after the game finished and was only available for the 24 hours following. It shows how Adidas is paying attention and willing to move quickly.
  • It’s a fun celebration! Everything feels very serious and heavy in the world today, but with the NBA season back in session this is a fun way to celebrate an achievement for DL and the Trail Blazers.

Source: Rolling Stone

Burger King Face Masks Communicate Customers’ Orders

Consumers who place their orders in advance on Burger King Belgium’s Facebook or Instagram via Burger King’s “Safe Order” service receive a custom-printed version of their order written on a face mask. When they go to pick up their order, they don’t need to speak at all.

Why it’s Hot:

While only available for a limited time, the masks are a fun way to bring awareness to a real problem (talking expels droplets, so wearing a mask and limiting talking makes their restaurants safer) while building affinity for the brand. Plus, having people wear these outside of the Burger King ordering occasion is free advertising for them.

“Reclaim Her Name” gives women authors the credit they deserve

Mary Ann Evans and Amantine Aurore Dupin probably don’t ring much of a bell for most people, even those who are avid readers of literature. Definitely not as much as these women’s exalted noms de plume “George Eliot” and “George Sand”, pseudonyms these brilliant women took on in order to get their work published and read in a world that overwhelmingly ignored or disdained the expression of women. Some smart folks at VMLY&R decided to help change that, and to honor women authors, by publishing their work in their true names in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Women’s Prize for Fiction in the UK.

From Campaign:

Baileys has partnered The Women’s Prize for Fiction to create a collection of novels that were written by women but originally published under male pseudonyms.

Over the centuries, many female writers have felt compelled to publish work under a male name to be taken seriously. To highlight this, the Baileys’ collection celebrates the work of  writers including Mary Ann Evans, Ann Petry and Amantine Aurore Dupin (pen names George Eliot, Arnold Petri and George Sand, respectively) to mark 25 years of The Women’s Prize for Fiction.

Last year, the Irish liqueur brand launched a series of events around the Women’s Prize for Fiction, including a “Baileys book bar” pop-up at Waterstones on Tottenham Court Road, London.

From Creative Brief.com:

The campaign honours and celebrates female authors and will include the first ever publication of Middlemarch under George Elliot’s real name, Mary Ann Evans.

Each of the 25 books in the library features newly commissioned cover artwork which was created by female designers and the full collection will be available to download as free e-books. The team carefully selected each of the 25 books, searching archives, online and university resources to identify female writers who disguised their gender with pseudonyms. The collection includes A Phantom Lover by Violet Paget (pen name Vernon Lee) and Marie of the Cabin Club by Ann Petry (pen name Arnold Petri).

Liz Petry, daughter of Anne Petry, explained her pride at her mother’s inclusion under her own name. She says: “When I was asked if my mother’s work could be included within such a worthy collection of books along with other impressive female writers, I was honoured. I’m incredibly proud of my mother’s work and it excites me that her writing has been introduced to a new audience through this collection. I know she would be thrilled to be a part of this as it’s an incredible conversation starter for such an important cause. My mother always believed in a world with shared humanity and I think this project encapsulates that.”

Tamryn Kerr, Creative Director, VMLY&R added: “Many of the authors we selected were suffragettes and staunch feminists. I’d like to think of this project as our way of thanking them for what they did for us, and of supporting a new generation of artists through the new cover art that 13 inspiring female illustrators, from all over the world, created for the Reclaim Her Name collection.”

What happens when you google Middlemarch…

THIS…

TO THIS…

Check out all the other titles being published

Why it’s hot:

1. Middlemarch, first published in 1871, will be published under the author’s real name for the first time.

2. This gives other publishers more permission to publish these titles with the authors’ true names. And on the flip side, in this day and age, would a publisher be bold enough stupid enough to continue to publish Middlemarch under the name George Eliot? In 50 years, will Mary Ann Evans be more well known than George Eliot?

3. Baileys seems like an odd pairing, but it’s smart of them to attach themselves to an undeniably positive movement in the literary world.

Source: Creative Brief

Science Twitter Goes Bananas

Following Science Twitter in the time of the pandemic has been a personal treat (anyone else following Andy Slavitt?) This is the best way to get new COVID info fast.

https://twitter.com/ASlavitt/status/1291146820320714752

Recently there has been MAJOR drama within the science Twitter world. My friend (a research scientist) summarized it well for me “Science Twitter has been insane recently. This is a professor named BethAnn who started a movement called MeTooSTEM to try to bring to light sexual harassment in academia, especially among a protected class of tenured professors. She was briefly [at the center of this discussion] as she did not get tenure after fighting against a prof at her university accused of sexual harassment. But, BethAnn has been accused for a long time of being anti-POC… Lots of people dropped out of the movement.”

Per the NYTimes, an “anonymous [Twitter] account, @Sciencing_Bi, was an active participant in the corner of Science Twitter that frequently discusses issues of sexual misconduct in the sciences. It claimed on at least one occasion to have grown up in Alabama, to have “fled the south because of their oppression of queer folk,” and to have attended Catholic school. The account began to pointedly make reference to being Native American and, earlier this year, began to identify as Hopi.

Since 2016, it has posted often about issues around social justice in the sciences, with a focus on activism and research about sexual harassment.”

“Then BethAnn McLaughlin, another Twitter connection, announced on July 31 that the anonymous professor had died from complications of the virus.”

“The same day, Gerardo Gonzalez, a spokesman for Arizona State University, where the anonymous Twitter user was supposedly a professor, described the anonymous account as a “hoax.”

The account had posted inaccurate information about the school, he said. “We also have had no one, such as a family member or friend, report a death to anyone at the university,” he added.”

As it turns out, this account was actually created (and killed off) by BethAnn herself.

BethAnn McLaughlin in late 2018.BethAnn McLaghlin

@Sciencing_Bi seemed to make BethAnn impenetrable to criticism. Now it’s clear that this person was a figment of her imagination, not a fully realized human, and a tool to shield BethAnn herself.

Why it’s hot?

Catfishing is real. This person was believed across the scientific universe. Her university had to disavow the person before it was realized. What does that mean when we are all getting our information from “experts online” in the pandemic?