Walmart poised to capture the summer movie market?

As traditional movie theaters struggle to attract movie-goers during the pandemic, the confined-space nature of their offering has opened up opportunity for other players. Perhaps one in particular that happens to have a huge amount of real estate for parking cars and for allowing customers to sit back and watch a film from the comfort (and relative safety) of their vehicle? Enter: Walmart.

Walmart has had success being more customer focused with their shop online and pick up stations. This new foray into theaters feels like an extension of that customer-centric premise.

Walmart is smart to move fast to assess how the brand can fulfill consumer desires in light of current events with resources they mostly already have on hand. This agility is what will help Walmart capitalize on movie-goers while theater heavy hitters are sitting ducks.

It’s also a lead-gen play. To discover info and movie times, you need to sign up for their newsletter.

From The Verge:

Walmart is converting some of its parking lots into drive-in theaters for the summer as the movie industry struggles amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The retail behemoth is converting 160 of its parking lots across the US into drive-ins. These theaters will open in early August and remain open through October. The Walmart Drive-In will feature movies programmed by Tribeca Enterprises, the company behind the Tribeca Film Festival, which recently launched a summer movie drive-in series bringing films, music, and sporting events to as many US drive-ins as possible.

Walmart has not disclosed whether attendees will have to pay a price of admission. Though, ahead of each drive-in screening, Walmart says it will sell concessions for moviegoers, which they can order online for curbside pick-up ahead of the film screening. Theaters tend to make a good chunk of their profits on concessions, so Walmart could follow in the industry’s lead.

Why it’s hot:

1. This is a great example of using surplus resources to fill a market gap. The heavy investment stuff is already in place. Walmart needs to invest in some screens, staff, etc, but that overhead is minimal.

2. Though it’s only temporary, the experience created should endear people to the brand, as well as boost revenues from concessions sales.

Source: The Verge

How does Zoom make money?

Have you wondered what Zoom’s revenue model and pricing structure is like?

Infographic: Zoom's Revenue Skyrockets On Pandemic Boost | Statista

“As the chart shows, Zoom saw its revenue skyrocket in the past three months, accelerating an already impressive upward trend. In the quarter ended April 30, total revenue for the video conferencing company amounted to $328 million, up 169 percent from the same period of last year. For the ongoing quarter, Zoom expects another jump in revenue to $495 to $500 million as working from home will remain highly prevalent as long as the pandemic hasn’t run its course.”

 

The free version limits usage time to 40 minutes while limiting user count to 100 attendees. To lift these restrictions, customers will have to pay a monthly subscription fee.

Businesses or individuals have to pay $14.99 when billed monthly or $12.49/month for annual billing.

Zoom Rooms

Zoom Rooms are conference rooms systems that allow organizations to run video meetings. Customers can utilize their existing hardware providers such as Polycom and Cisco or purchase from Zoom-certified hardware providers.

The company’s Professional Services unit then ensures that the installation of conference rooms runs as smoothly as possible.

Customers are charged a monthly subscription fee, which comes in at $49 a month per installed conference room (or $41.58 per month when billed annually).

Furthermore, Zoom partners up with manufacturers like DTEN or Aver to provide their customers with the necessary hardware tools.

Zoom Video Webinars 

Zoom Video Webinars is a web conferencing service that allows users to broadcast a Zoom meeting to up to 10,000 view-only attendees. Webinars start at a capacity of 100 participants and scale up to 10,000 participants, depending on the license bought.

Webinar pricing starts at $14.99 per month and user (when billed monthly). On top of that, a webinar license must be purchased. The price depends on the number of attendees hosted. 

 

Why it’s hot: Certain companies and sectors have benefited from the Covid-19 pandemic and video communications technologies like Zoom have been one of the biggest beneficiaries.

Sources: One, Two

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

In the stay-at-home world, digital services and media have been growing

With Americans spending so much time at home and in quarantine, they’re using more digital services and media, but consuming it in different ways.

Why it’s hot: Even though digital services are seeing strong growth at the moment, it isn’t necessarily translating to higher revenue for all of these companies because for those that rely on advertising, many have seen their ad revenue fall as various brands cut marketing spend.

Source: The New York Times

Uber Launches Two New Delivery Services to “Move More of What Matters”

Uber announced two new services that will help people navigate two of the top challenges they are currently facing: getting the essentials they need for themselves, and sharing essentials with friends and family. With far fewer people relying on Uber to take them from place to place, Uber has rapidly pivoted into the transportation of goods.

The first service, Uber Direct, is an expansion of Uber Eats’ core functionality to grocery and convenience stores. They’ve launched with different partners in different cities, including Cabinet delivering OTC medicine in NYC and Greencross delivering pet supplies in Australia.

Uber Connect, on the other hand, will pick up items from one person and deliver them to another. Their example use cases include sending a care package, a board game, or toilet paper to a loved one, but there are countless ways this service can be used to stay connected from a distance.

Why It’s Hot

Getting key supplies to family members in need within the same-day without having to take public transportation or even leave your house is extremely beneficial at this time. But the convenience factor of sending items through an Uber driver may also lead to fun ways to send surprise gifts, exchange books, or trade supplies with friends and family in a way that makes social distancing a bit easier.

Source

NBA and ESPN bring lofi games of HORSE to the fans via Zoom

The NBA has given basketball fans something to hold on to while the season has been cancelled due to Coronavirus. Using Zoom, ESPN and the NBA put on a HORSE tournament with players shooting hoops from their own back yards or at local courts.

The viewership is not as high as games, but it’s still around half a million for many of the matches and the 1 – 1 nature of the game could provide a wealth of content to keep fans engaged until the next season begins.

From Fast Company:

For the NBA, which suspended its 2019-2020 season on March 11, the challenge has been to keep fans interested and engaged.

Since then, the league has launched a number of new content initiatives, all under the umbrella of “NBA Together.” Those include Instagram Live sessions with star players, a new interview stream with broadcaster Ernie Johnson on the league’s Twitter feed, posting practice drills for young players stuck at home, new programming on NBA TV that has players commenting on classic games, and more.

But last Sunday, the league took its experimentation a step further, teaming with ESPN to take the big leagues to the playground with a televised pandemic version of H-O-R-S-E. The tournament started with eight players that span current stars from the NBA and WNBA, as well as a few retired legends, and was whittled down to four semifinalists playing for the crown on Thursday. Aside from bragging rights among the players, as part of the game league sponsor State Farm is donating more than $200,000 to COVID-19 response efforts.

Paul Benedict, the NBA’s associate VP of broadcasting content management, said, “I think it’s forcing everyone, not just in sports and entertainment, to approach things differently given the limitations, and to approach things more efficiently,” says Benedict. “The countless number of Zoom calls we’ve been on, you just have a different mindset when you approach collaborative efforts like these. H-O-R-S-E was a scaled-down production in some ways, but a massive effort in others that required quick thinking, split-second decision-making, and a lot of cooperation across the board. I think we’re going to come out as a league better from this, stronger, and more collaborative. It’s a great building block.”

Why it’s hot:

It’s interesting that the Zoom format gives a more intimate experience with the players than what you’d get with a typical ESPN broadcast. How will this change what fans expect of players and of ESPN content in the long run?

This format gives players the opportunity (or obligation) to connect on a different level with their fans, one where personality is perhaps taking on a bigger role.

Source: Fast Company

Quarantine can’t keep Thao & The Get Down Stay Down down

From The Verge (emphasis mine):

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Oakland-based band Thao & The Get Down Stay Down had a problem. Their plan to shoot a music video for their single “Phenom” was abruptly canceled as shelter-in-place orders rolled in. The band, crew, and dancers could no longer meet up in person, and they were faced with a decision: put everything on hold or figure out a way to make the music video remotely. “At first we didn’t know if we would even release the song because it’s about people unifying,” Thao tells The Verge. “So it was never an option for me to shoot the video solo.” But then her manager had an idea. What if they shot the music video entirely within Zoom?

Featuring Thao alongside eight dancers, the “Phenom” video went from concept to completion within a week. There was one pre-production meeting, one five-hour rehearsal, and one shoot day, all of which took place on Zoom. “If we were going to do such a thing and commit to it,” says Thao, “we had to do it really quickly because it is so of the moment.”

Why it’s hot:

It’s cool to see creative people using the medium of the moment (video conferencing) to create art in a short amount of time. It goes to show that what’s most important is not having the highest production value, but connecting with your audience.

Using Zoom as a medium places the viewer in emotional proximity to the band, making them relatable, but the creative approach to choreography within the Zoom frames heightens the medium from mere communication to the level of art.

Source: The Verge

Dyson Invents New Ventilator in 10 Days

When called upon to help with the Coronavirus pandemic by the UK government, James Dyson put his teams to work and came up with a new Dyson ventilator in 10 days that goes into production immediately.
“A ventilator supports a patient who is no longer able to maintain their own airways, but sadly there is currently a significant shortage, both in the UK and other countries around the world,” Dyson wrote.
And noted: “This new device can be manufactured quickly, efficiently and at volume,” Dyson added, that the ventilator has been designed to “address the specific needs” of COVID patients.

Why it’s hot:

By running to the pandemic tasks, brands can use their ensure good will post pandemic. Dyson is a well oiled machine and its impressive which brands can pivot on a dime.

Animal Crossing: Trouble in Paradise

It has been said that the release of Nintendo’s Animal Crossing game, “Animal Crossing: New Horizons”, was perfectly timed.

With the world outside uncertain and scary, the soothing music and free game play of Animal Crossing–a franchise where players design and build their own digital islands and then invite friends to visit–is said to be the perfect soothing and social antidote.

Sales appear to back this up, with millions of units sold in its first days of release, putting it on track to sell more than any other game in the popular franchise. Further, there have been heartwarming stories of people putting real life events into the game, like the couple that had their wedding ceremony on the platform. (See pic below)

There is one problem. Unless customers are willing to buy separate Nintendo systems or games, they must share the virtual world–and its limited resources for building their islands–with other players. This has led to family fights, and relationship management, like one couple who decided to separate their island with a river in order to insure that each has control of their own portion.

Why it’s hot: 

Increase in at-home entertainment like video games is to be expected as the world hunkers down to face the coronavirus pandemic. What is less expected are the new problems these changing behaviors create.

 

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”?

Tech-forward restaurant designs open-source take-out “airlock” to protect workers

The San Fransisco tech-forward restaurant Creator has made their new airlock system (for providing take-out orders during the coronavirus crisis) open source for any other businesses that need to protect their workers from the many possibly infected people coming to their locations.

Makezine:

The chamber is pressurized by a Sanyo Denki 24-volt 65CFM blower regulated by simple LM317 voltage regulator circuit. The conveyor belt feeds itself through a 5 gallon bucket of quaternary sanitizing solution. Customers can order through an intercom, and their takeaway bags are heat-sealed and labeled with a tamperproof sticker just to be extra super sanitary.

Fast Company:

“Retail workers are on the front lines, exposed to hundreds of strangers every day in enclosed spaces,” says Creator founder Alex Vardakostas. “If retail workers fall ill, they are in turn at risk of infecting delivery workers and customers. We can’t restart the economy until retail and restaurant workers are protected. They’re some of the most important people to keep virus-free.”

This falls directly in Creator’s wheelhouse, as they are known for being the first to automate the making of a fully prepared burger with the beautiful machine above. Fast-moving innovations like the airlock promote the restaurant brand as a function of doing good for their workers, which is of such concern with service workers right now, and gives customers more piece of mind as they look for safe places to procure food and have a sense of normalcy in these difficult times.

Fast Company:

The restaurant’s team has unusual engineering skills—when Creator opened in 2018, it became the first in the world to make fully prepared burgers with a robot that handles everything from slicing the bun and cooking the patty to chopping up onions and tomatoes. For customers in the current pandemic, there’s some added comfort in the fact that the process minimizes human contact; the machine even packages each burger itself. But the storefront still needs staff to get the food to customers waiting to pick it up, and last week, engineers and fabricators set to work on the new airlock-like window.

Why it’s hot:

1. The world needs fast-moving innovation right now, and there’s nothing like giving your innovation away for free to garner media recognition and positive public sentiment. The earned media from their design and their gesture will pique the interest of many, who will discover even cooler offerings coming out of the brand’s innovative approach — like a $6 gourmet burger in San Fransisco.

2. Making this design open-source may help other restaurants move quickly to implement solutions that work for them — but it mostly promotes the brand as being next-level, and getting it hyped in publications like Fast Company.

What IP do brands have that could function in a similar way, helping the public in a way that shows off their unique offerings or abilities (instead of donating money), while garnering positive sentiment and media attention?

Source: Fast Company, Makezine

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.