You can still be a Toys ‘R’ Us Kid

Toys ‘R’ Us back… sort-of…

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Tru Kids, the owner of the Toys ‘R’ Us brand is “bringing back the Toys ‘R’ Us brand in a modern way through a strong experiential and content-rich omnichannel concept,” Richard Barry, CEO of Tru Kids, said in a statement.

Learning from its prior mistakes of not embracing technology and a digital transformation, this relaunch is purely digital and content-focused in nature, partnering with Target and Candytopia to help with ecommerce and real-life, memorable experiences.

Dubbed “The Toys R Us Adventure,” the company partnered with Candytopia to create the experiential pop-ups in Chicago and Atlanta and feature more than a dozen interactive play rooms, larger-than-life toys, and installations featuring Geoffrey, the brand’s giraffe mascot.

Why it’s hot: Toys ‘R’ Us’ was the poster child for death by tech, with its rejection of ecommerce and digital transformation. Now the company is trying to show everyone it can learn from its mistakes. The question is, will the nostalgia of Toys ‘R’ Us be enough to drive expensive experiential store visits. It’ll be interesting to see if this attempt at jumping into the digital deep end will have a happy ending. If it does work, will we start seeing the return of other brands who failed to innovate? Blockbuster Video? Tower Records?

Sources: FastCo, Business Insider, ToysRUs.com, Forbes

 

Orwellabama? Crimson Tide Track Locations to Keep Students at Game

Coach Nick Saban gets peeved at students leaving routs early. An app ties sticking around to playoff tickets, but also prompts concern from students and privacy watchdogs.

The Alabama football coach, has long been peeved that the student section at Bryant-Denny Stadium empties early. So this season, the university is rewarding students who attend games — and stay until the fourth quarter — with an alluring prize: improved access to tickets to the SEC championship game and to the College Football Playoff semifinals and championship game, which Alabama is trying to reach for the fifth consecutive season.

But to do this, Alabama is taking an extraordinary, Orwellian step: using location-tracking technology from students’ phones to see who skips out and who stays. “It’s kind of like Big Brother,” said Allison Isidore, a graduate student in religious studies from Montclair, N.J.

It also seems inevitable in an age when tech behemoths like Facebook, Google and Amazon harvest data from phones, knowing where users walk, what they watch and how they shop. Alabama isn’t the only college tapping into student data; the University of North Carolina uses location-tracking technology to see whether its football players and other athletes are in class.

Greg Byrne, Alabama’s athletic director, said privacy concerns rarely came up when the program was being discussed with other departments and student groups. Students who download the Tide Loyalty Points app will be tracked only inside the stadium, he said, and they can close the app — or delete it — once they leave the stadium. “If anybody has a phone, unless you’re in airplane mode or have it off, the cellular companies know where you are,” he said.

But Adam Schwartz, a lawyer for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a privacy watchdog, said it was “very alarming” that a public university — an arm of the government — was tracking its students’ whereabouts.

“Why should packing the stadium in the fourth quarter be the last time the government wants to know where students are?” Schwartz said, adding that it was “inappropriate” to offer an incentive for students to give up their privacy. “A public university is a teacher, telling students what is proper in a democratic society.”

The creator of the app, FanMaker, runs apps for 40 colleges, including Clemson, Louisiana State and Southern California, which typically reward fans with gifts like T-shirts. The app it created for Alabama is the only one that tracks the locations of its students. That Alabama would want it is an example of how even a powerhouse program like the Crimson Tide is not sheltered from college football’s decline in attendance, which sank to a 22-year low last season.

The Tide Loyalty Points program works like this: Students, who typically pay about $10 for home tickets, download the app and earn 100 points for attending a home game and an additional 250 for staying until the fourth quarter. Those points augment ones they garner mostly from progress they have made toward their degrees — 100 points per credit hour. (A regular load would be 15 credits per semester, or 1,500 points.)

The students themselves had no shortage of proposed solutions.

“Sell beer; that would keep us here,” said Harrison Powell, a sophomore engineering major from Naples, Fla.

“Don’t schedule cupcakes,” said Garrett Foster, a senior management major from Birmingham, referring to Alabama’s ritually soft non-conference home schedule, which this year includes Western Carolina, Southern Mississippi and New Mexico State. (Byrne has set about beefing it up, scheduling home-and-home series with Texas, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Notre Dame, but those don’t start until 2022.)

In the meantime, there is also time for students to solve their own problems, which is, after all, the point of going to college. An Alabama official figured it would not be long before pledges are conscripted to hold caches of phones until the fourth quarter so their fraternity brothers could leave early.

“Without a doubt,” said Wolf, the student from Philadelphia. “I haven’t seen it yet, but it’s the first game. There will be workarounds for sure.”

As for whether the app, with its privacy concerns, early bugs and potential loopholes, will do its job well enough to please Saban was not a subject he was willing to entertain as the sun began to set on Saturday. He was looking ahead to the next opponent: South Carolina.

 

Why It’s Hot:  

Another example of a brand/institution using gamification to influence behavior, this takes it a step further – pushing towards the edge of the privacy conversation, and perhaps leading us all to consider what might be an acceptable “exchange rate” for personal information.

Blurring the media lines, in a world where content is king

Dream Team, the fantasy football offshoot from U.K. tabloid The Sun, has had a retention problem. From one year to the next, the free-to-play game would have to reacquire two-thirds of its audience who signed up to play the previous year, which is typically around 1 million subscribers. As well as wasted effort, re-acquiring audiences costs more than retaining them.

To address this churn, Dream Team built a new content vertical including a newsletter and YouTube series around fantasy football last summer. Now it has begun to bear fruits: Dream Team retained 68% of last year’s customers this season, increasing annual audience retention rate 21% year-on-year, and won new branded content clients; however, the publisher was unwilling to share exactly how many people subscribed for the 2019 season.

“We are building a more franchise approach to content,” he said. “As many brands in the digital space find, bringing in audiences with content is easy, but digital content brands can struggle with loyalty and retention.”

After hearing that audiences wanted more fantasy football content — rather than generic football news content — at the start of the football season in August 2018, Dream Team also launched an email newsletter, Dream Team “Coach,” devised in part by Jimmy Lloyd, content development editor. The newsletter, written by football expert Nick Elliott, to add a more personal feel, goes out every Thursday and features tips and hints on which players are likely to play well that weekend for subscribers to switch around their fantasy football teams.

The newsletter now has over 1 million subscribers and an open rate of between 15% and 20%, according to Bearryman. The content is mostly self-contained content, so it doesn’t track click-through rates via links to external stories.

“That was the big shift and was a battle in many ways; people are used to using email a certain way,” said Bearryman. “We looked at Red Box [political newsletter from News UK’s subscription title, The Times of London] and what audiences want from email. Like other off-platform distribution, audiences don’t want to be thrown around.”

As an extension to the newsletter, in February, Dream Team launched “Coach TV” on YouTube, a weekly 20-minute chat show focused on football news. Videos typically get up to 20,000 YouTube views, last season had over 500,000 unique viewers. Over the course of 12 months, viewer retention rate doubled retention rate from 20% to 40%, according to Bearryman. Watch time on season two is over six minutes compared with three minutes last season.

Publishers like BuzzFeed are increasingly making series over one-off episodes in order to bring people back more regularly. It’s this regular viewing that attracts brand budgets too. The success of “Coach TV” was instrumental in signing bookmaker Betway to a season-long branded content campaign. As well as Betway badging alongside the Dream Team logo, the bookmaker gives exclusive betting odds and offers for the “Coach TV” audience. It’s a natural fit as 50% of Dream Team managers have an active betting account. The season-long campaign, exclusive to Dream Team rather than The Sun, cost £1.04 million ($1.27 million). According to Bearryman, the conversion rate of traffic referred to Betway is 2.5%, which compares favorably with Dream Team’s internal content conversion rates.

Over the last year, Dream Team itself has run between 10 and 12 other branded content campaigns across other sub-brands or franchises. One such sub-brand is “Hometown Glory,” a weekly show where former England football player Alex Scott takes other football players back to their hometown. Dream Team is currently in talks with two consumer goods brands for sponsorship for the season.

More franchises are in the works, according to Bearryman.

“We want to build other online sub-brands and franchises to become famous for and reach new audiences,” he said.

Why It’s Hot

A good example of the power Relationships built around common interests – authentically activated across channels, platforms and formats, and orchestrated over time.

IKEA and National Geographic take on “Bedroom Habits”

National Geographic and IKEA® come together to capture and document the human species in one of the most challenging habitats the world has ever seen — the bedroom. 
Ikea isn’t just about meatballs and couches. With its latest campaign, the Swedish retailer wants to be known as sleep experts, so it partnered with National Geographic on a series of films called ‘Bedroom Habitats.’

The faux-nature series looks to capture and document the human species in one of the most challenging habitats — the bedroom. The films cover everything from a comically small mattress to the unrelenting threat of clutter.

 Created by National Geographic with Wavemaker, the four videos in the series will highlight different consumers with varying sleep challenges. The first, ‘Small Bed Battle,’ shows a couple fighting for space in their tiny bed as a narrator gives a documentary style blow-by-blow of the epic struggle. A positive outcome surfaces after the couple goes to Ikea and gets a reasonably-sized bed.

The series will be hosted on a dedicated National Geographic Bedroom Habitats microsite, along with sleep challenges and shoppable solutions, and on National Geographic Instagram stories and its Facebook page. The series will also be supported with paid social and display units.

A complimentary campaign titled ‘Save Our Sleep,’ features the same nature documentary style, highlighting the issue that one-in-three Americans doesn’t get enough sleep, with Ikea offered up as the sleep hero.

Produced by Ogilvy, the ‘Planet Sleep’ television spot showcases how a comfortable bedroom sanctuary can help save endangered sleep through the implementation of simple and affordable sleep solutions, like new lower priced mattresses and ergonomic pillows. It starts by showing tired people in stressed out urban lifestyles. They only become happy as they realize that Ikea is the solution to their sleep problems.

“Trends show that a good night’s sleep might very well be going extinct. Globally, the average number of hours slept has fallen significantly in the past 50 years from eight hours to just a little over six,” said Joy Kelly, US media manager at Ikea. “Having conducted years of extensive research into how people live (and sleep) at home – and implementing those learnings to create a better everyday life – we know Ikea has the complete quality bedroom solutions that can help everyone achieve a good night’s sleep, so we wanted to be sure to showcase that.”

These quirky films mark the start of a larger, year-long campaign by Ikea to combat decreasing sleep levels in today’s society, positioning the retailer as one that is creating hope for the future of sleep.

“With the year-long ‘Save Our Sleep’ campaign, we hope to inspire consumers with simple, affordable bedroom solutions that will go a long way towards a better night sleep,” added Kelly. “Sleep-deprived consumers can be rest assured that Ikea is committed to saving our sleep in 2019 and beyond.”

Cadbury Chocolate Feeds the Malnourished

In the Philippines, where almost one third of children under five are malnourished, the Cadbury has created a chocolate bar without milk, the Generosity Bar, and is donating the glass and a half to children in need.

The Generosity Bar launched at a pop-up store in a popular Manila mall and for every candy bar purchased, Cadbury redirects the forgone milk to malnourished children through its partnership with NGO Reach Out Feed Philippines.

So far 200,000 glasses of milk have been donated to Filipino children.

Other chocolate brands might struggle to form a meaningful partnership with a malnutrition charity, but Cadbury found a way to make this initiative feel natural and relevant. Rather than use its packaging and platform to just draw attention to the Philippines’ child malnutrition problem or encouraging consumers to make donations, Cadbury enabled its customers to donate simply by buying the product: a win-win for Cadbury, the children and the consumers.

Why it’s hot:

CSR has become a hot topic in the advertising world, but doing it right isn’t always easy as many times brands sometimes lack the ability to put others first. This is a great example of a brand wholly dedicating itself to a cause and providing an easy way for its customers to participate and give back by doing something they already do, eat chocolate.

Source: Glass half full – Contagious I/O

Kellogg’s Rice Krispies Expands “Love Notes” to Even More Children

Last year, the Kellogg cereal brand teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to create specialized “Love Notes” with phrases like “You’ve Got This” to “Love You Lots” written in braille for parents to share with children who are blind. Now Rice Krispies is continuing its mission with a new kind of love note, one designed with children living with autism or on the autism spectrum.

Since not every child communicates love through words, the cereal company partnered with Autism Speaks to create touch-and-feel sensory “Love Notes” so children can actually feel love and support as they transition back to school. The four “lightly reusable” stickers come in a range of supposedly calming colors and different textures, including fleece, faux fur, satin, and velour for sensory-focused kids to feel the love through a tactile experience.

Why it’s hot:
Kellogg’s expansion of its “Love Notes” write-able wrappers demonstrates the brand’s commitment to all parents – providing an otherwise under served audience (parents with children with autism and children who are blind) – helping them provide their children with love and support anywhere they are. They found a simple way to make love notes meaningful to any child.

Sources: Fast Company, Kellogg’s Love Notes

Weed Gets A Museum

Weed, ganja, grass, herb, whatever you call it, has had a multi-century smear campaign leveled against it, but its time in the golden spotlight of acceptability is nigh.

With the legalization of recreational marijuana in key states across the country, cannabis is poised for its big-business debut. And those investing in weed today hope it will become as big as Budweiser. A new kind of bud! (I couldn’t help myself.)

But getting to those household-name numbers requires normalizing a substance that’s historically been presented as a tool of the devil to lure hapless souls into eternal hellfire – or at least make them lazy and braindead – or worse, jam-band groupies!

Devil's Harvest marijuana propoganda

What better way to normalize and educate than by pairing weed with one of our most distinguished institutions of learning and culture: the museum? It’s propaganda for the good guys!

Weedmaps, the Seamless/Yelp/Google Maps of cannabis, has employed the Museum Of (Interesting Thing That Doesn’t Belong In A Regular Museum trend to help establish itself as the thought leader in the cannabis space and break down misconceptions about weed in the process.

Why it’s hot

1. Weedmaps is mainstreaming marijuana by putting its product in the same arena as other very legit things found in museums, such as history, science and art. Duchamp would be proud.

2. Never are you more primed to learn than when you’re immersed in an experience.

3. Most people attending the museum are probably already advocates for weed legalization. This will give them fuel and facts to spread the word more.

Source: Fast Company

Burger King Trolls McDonalds, Gets 1 Million App Downloads.

The Art of the Troll. #Petty

Burger King got national attention this week for offering 1-cent Whoppers to those who drove up to a McDonald’s location (and then, presumably, drove away to redeem their BK coupons). Key to the stunt was the brand’s smartphone app, which unlocked the offer when it detected users approaching within 600 feet of a McDonald’s.

The “Whopper Detour” sent customers to a rival’s doorstep, and it worked, in terms of both publicity and app downloads.

Burger King today said its app was downloaded more than 1 million times since Whopper Detour launched on Tuesday, and the app is currently No. 1 among free software in the Apple App Store. That puts Burger King’s app, for now at least, above app giants like YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and Amazon.

(The McDonald’s app, in case you’re curious, is currently at No. 42.)

Why It’s Hot:

Brands trolling other brands has become a sure fire way to go viral, this uses brand trolling in conjunction with location based apps to drive people to a competitor and it worked to drive sales and app downloads.

 

Source: AdWeek https://www.adweek.com/creativity/after-trolling-mcdonalds-burger-kings-app-was-downloaded-1-million-times-and-hit-no-1/ 

Increased Use of Point of Care Tactics Offer Opportunity For Better In-office Experience

MM&M announced this week that “up to 20% of pharma brands are moving digital media spend to point-of-care tactics” which was grounded in a study fielded by ZS Associates. To a certain extent, this is unsurprising as many forms of digital media such as social and display continue to face increasing scrutiny around the topic of ad fraud.

This will have an impact on two key audiences in healthcare marketing – patients and providers – which if well thought through, should be overwhelmingly positive.

Phreesia Patient Intake Platform

Patients

Platforms such as Phreesia offer patients the opportunity to engage with content as part of the intake process. The biggest challenge here will be placements that are relevant to the specific patient as there is a potential to spend effort on poor placements. Case in point; when I took my son to the pediatrician for his flu shot this year, I was offered the opportunity to “Learn More” about a branded product. The only thing I can recall about the brand is that is had nothing to do with why I was there and wouldn’t be appropriate for my son. Contextual relevance will be critical to success in these moments.

epocrates advertising platform from athenahealth

Providers

HCPs, particularly PCPs, are the target of massive amounts of marketing. Overwhelming is an understatement here. When you consider the necessity of staying abreast of current trends and new therapies, to a certain extent, they need to be exposed to these messages. However, when it’s all said and done, the moment that matters is when the Rx decision is made. The opportunity to be a relevant part of that moment as part of the HCPs workflow in the EHR/EMR offers pharma companies an incredible opportunity. When you consider the number of drugs that don’t have the budget for mass DTC advertising, the HCP really is the decision maker in the therapy of choice.

Why It’s Hot

While contextual relevance for audiences is improving and offers plenty of potential, the real win will be when a brand can own the conversation across the moments in an office visit.

Consider a diabetes patient checking in for a check-up who is offered a message around potential therapy they may be eligible with a DTC ad based upon key factors pulled through from their EHR.

Then, at the end of the appointment, the HCP if offered a targeted message in the EHR with a savings offer the patient can print and take with them.

With brands doubling down on these POC channels, we have the opportunity to take the in-office experience to new levels.

Name That Tune

We’re so used to the apps we use every day just working. When Twitter or Facebook or Google go down, everybody panics! But what happens if our favorite apps simply forgot what they were supposed to be doing.

Alzheimer’s Research U.K., agency Innocean Worldwide U.K. brought a horribly human attribute to Shazam—the ability to forget.

“The Day Shazam Forgot” was a collaboration in which Shazam appeared to have trouble remembering the songs people asked it to identify. When the app finally “remembered” the track, users were driven to a call to action about Alzheimer’s disease and invited to donate to the cause.

The campaign also used Shazam’s existing Shazam Again feature to promote its message.

The effort ran through the month of April in the U.K. In mere hours, the agency says, “The Day Shazam Forgot” yielded 2,018,206 impressions, with 5,096 visitors visiting the Alzheimer’s Research U.K. donation page. (Hopefully they remembered their credit card information.)

Why Its Hot

It can be difficult for nonprofits with a singular focus to find marketing opportunities within existing apps. Finding the right audience is one challenge, but so is fitting your message in a way that actually makes sense.

This is a great example of cause marketing and the types of engagements you can create when the right partnership presents itself.

Beyond The Pill is moving to Game On!

Can conservative Pharma companies becomes Gamers? Although a large investment by Merck and AMGEN was announced several months ago, the repercussions are now being felt. This could help open up the long pent-up demand for innovation by Pharma manufacturers.

The investment news came last summer, as quoted in FierceBiotech: “Akili Interactive Labs, the Boston-based startup developing nonpharmacological therapeutics for various cognitive disorders like autism and Alzheimer’s disease, got an $11.9 million boost in funding, raising its total Series B proceeds to $42.4 million.” Basically, they use gamification to improve cognitive function.

Recently, the new Pharma and gamer partners announced their first accomplishment, EVO, the game:

The first game application for children with a cognitive disorder has proven highly effective. This gives the marketers a differentiating aspect to their Rx. Being a fact-based industry, this is big news.

Why is this hot?

  • The terms “Beyond The Pill” has become the industries code for “innovation” — trying to offer some technology or service to make their drug stand-out in the minds of doctors and consumers. “Innovation” is a word that is intensely frightening to most Pharma marketers. For several years, as more and more blockbusters (drugs with sales over $1 billion) become generics (70% of ALL drugs are now generics), Pharma has been haphazardly explored partnerships and technologies, but has often failed due to cultural entropy and conservatism in the C-suite. This is a first.
  • Change needs to come from the C-suite: $11 million is a lot of money, especially for an industry so conservative and ROI-obsessed.  Every company, even MRM-McCann clients, are looking for ways to engage patients from clinical trials through drug adherence — the entire product lifecycle.
  • I have been “selling” into one of our Pharma clients an Artificial Intelligence platform from a company that did Sgt Star on the U.S. Army site; we have had several meetings to try and issue AI as their Beyond The Pill strategy for launch of a new ADHD drug; this success with Akili may make that path easier.

Can 4/20 Be the Healthiest Day of the Year?

When people think about 4/20, they’re probably not thinking of healthy activities, but cannabis health and wellness company, Hmbldt wants to change that—with the help of their products, of course.

The company’s product line consists of vape pens that are designed to distribute controlled hits of cannabis designed to help to alleviate common ailments such as pain and insomnia — without getting its consumers high.

Yesterday, the company rolled out “GO420,” a social effort that will highlight 420 healthy ways to enjoy April 20 via the hashtag #GO420. Gifs and videos offer tips like “Go make a dream come true,” “Go take a pottery class,” “Go tell your partner you love them,” “Go do push-ups in the park,” “Go tell your partner a sexy secret.”

Why It’s Hot

  • Putting the consumer first by leveraging what is likely their biggest moment and making it about personal health rather than buying a product.
  • Campaigns like this create excellent affinity and lifelong ambassadors for a brand.

Wendy’s, servin’ up sass since 1969.

Wendy’s is super funny on Twitter. Their content is very streamlined and brand conscious but their 1:1 engagement is not.

A while ago Wendy’s was roasting everyone.

But a few days ago they going into a tiff with Hardees.

Why its hot

  • Wendy’s engaging with their fans is one thing, but now they’re sassing a HUGE food chain.
  • As social strategists its important to know when to engage and whether or not it makes sense for your brand.
  • Will this backfire? How did they get approval? So many questions…

http://www.businessinsider.com/this-wendys-hardees-twitter-fight-is-going-viral-2017-4

What is better? Doctor as authority or shared decision-making?

The Wall street Journal ran a piece this week about the power of shared decision-making and the impact it has on patient satisfaction, cost savings and healthier outcomes. While it was a simple and positive report, the findings are radical in that it is another herald of the transforming healthcare system.

Why is this important? Take Mass General, rated the #1 Hospital in the entire U.S. last year. They are not just doing one thing right to make the healthcare system work better for all, but they are doing neatly everything right. The hospital — and many others — have come to realize that the old model of “Doctor-as-authority-figure” does not really work any more — patients don’t feel in control, they often regret decisions, and last, they often end up NOT following the doctor’s orders and stop taking their medication, the impact of which is said to be over $200 billion in lost productivity every year.

Enter shared decision-making, which has had a radical impact on patient satisfaction. This visual aid is used to help patients make cancer treatment decisions:

Why is this hot? Because this heralds a major shift in a decades-old communication model, one that the entire U.S. society incorporated into their medical relationship with their doctor and thus, their health. This shared decision-making is not a mandate, but common sense; but even common sense in this case is a disruptor of the doctor-as-authority, which is how doctors are trained and inculcated into their own mindset. Radical that the doctor cedes this control; radical that the patient engages in complex decisions and comes away satisfied.

So, for Mass General, the results have been dramatic:

 

 

 

 

Visualizing Stuff In Space

Stuff In Space is a real-time 3D map of objects in Earth’s orbit. The website updates daily and uses satellite.js javascript library to calculate satellite positions.

There are tons of satellites, spacecraft parts, and debris out there, just circling the earth until someone does something about it. You can scroll to zoom in and out, and drag to rotate your view of earth and its surroundings. Mouseover to find the name of an object, and you might be able to look it up somewhere. The menu at the top left allows you to sort objects by type.

Why it’s Hot

  1. Interactive visualizations are great to illustrate otherwise unfathomable amounts of information
  2. The immersive experience, allowing users to explore and learn, keeps people engaged

 

What “New Journalism” Means for Brand Content

The New York Times recently published internally, but also publicly, their mandate for a new approach to digital journalism. There are some exciting goals expressed for the publication that support what we already know as marketers, strategists and social media specialists – quality over quantity; use of more engaging and experiential digital content formats and visuals; and a clear need for social integration and audience participation with real-time reward.

To see where they are headed, check out https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/12/07/world/asia/rodrigo-duterte-philippines-drugs-killings.html [warning: graphic content]. The full 2020 report is here.

Why It’s Hot: A huge publisher like the Times acknowledging so forcefully this “new” reality of storytelling – rich photography and immersive design, integration of tech (like Google Maps), making UGC part of the story – is important as this will become the way more and more people expect to get their content from all publishers, including brands – especially as more and more people around the world gain access to the technology and networks needed to support the dissemination of this rich experiential content.

You may have also noticed that Medium is expressing something of a manifesto lately across their social media channels. Interesting to consider the way media is adapting and changing as we look to both work with publishers and capture their audiences for our brands. https://www.instagram.com/medium/

 

 

Crowdsourcing donations in wake of election is gaining traction on your newsfeed and in Silicon Valley

Raising money for causes online is nothing new, but as political unrest has risen in recent weeks, causes like the ACLU are benefitting from private citizens starting grassroots fundraisers across social networks, and gaining traction from heavy hitters in Silicon Valley.

Just as the Pussyhat Project gained millions of followers to gear up for the January 21st Women’s Marches around the world, in the wake of the election powerful grassroots movements are forming by private citizens, using the tools most readily accessible to them to speak out, organize, and recruit followers.

Why It’s Hot: 

As marketers, it’s crucial to pay attention not only to the macro-trends and cultural movements of our communities, but also to how regular people are using the tools available to them (namely, in this case, social media) to take political and philanthropic action in this time of rapid change.

Friskies Long Form Commercial Kills

I don’t know if anyone else has seen this ad, but Friskies has been running this ad on YouTube and is not only hilarious (well, hopefully it’s funny to all of you!) but engaging.  The POV is an older cat giving a kitten advice on different things in life.  The video is almost 4 minutes long, and is skippable very early on (when shown as pre-roll).  My husband, who HATES ads, laughed with me through the whole thing, not ever asking if we could skip.

Why It’s Hot

1.) Smart way to put a brand message out.  The video doesn’t push the brand too much, but you see just enough to know it’s for Friskies

2.) Engaging: Whoever made the ad ensured that it was funny enough to engage people to watch the whole thing.  It was posed one week ago and already has over 2.2MM views.

3.) Interesting use of a YouTube brand channel: Friskies is posting a bunch of “Dear Kitten” videos in this series.  Being part crazy cat lady, I subscribed… the videos are entertaining!

The Art of Shaving

Amit is 44 years old. He has a mother, a father, a twin sister, a wife, and two kids. He also has a beard, which he’s had for the past 14 years.

An Israeli agency (BBR Saatchi & Saatchi) made a short film titled “My New Face,” where they had Amit uses a Life M6 razorblade to shave off his beard. Then they filmed the reactions of his family – including his children, who have never seen their father without a beard.

The idea for the film originated with an agency staffer who recalled that as a child, he did not immediately recognize his father after he shaved off his trademark beard.

Why it’s hot:

I thought this was an excellent use of pathos. The film was funny and touching, and unlike any razorblade ad I’ve seen from companies like Gillette. The film is not trying to sell you a product, it’s offering you the chance to transform yourself. As Gianatasio states in the article, “the film does a fine job of boosting the brand by transforming a basic consumer good into an almost mystical agent of change.”

Source

YouTube Launches 360-Degree Video Ads

Bud Light became the first advertiser in the United States to launch a 360-degree video running in YouTube TrueView ads. The company’s ads for its “Whatever USA” campaign focus on three events that took place during a takeover of Catalina Island off the coast of southern California. Bud Light’s immersive ads drop you right in the middle of the action, including a performance by Diplo, the welcome parade, and the “Turn of An Era” 1920s themed party.

There are opportunities in this video content tool for a variety of brands. Realtors, for example, can use the format to highlight the interior of a home. Car manufacturers can show off the inside of an automobile. Advertisers like Coca-Cola, Nike and Bud Light can create memorable and immersive branded experiences.

Chrome, Android and iOS support the feature, which originally gained support from Google in March. Users can navigate through the 360-degree video by clicking on the wheel at the top left of the image with their mouse if on a desktop, as well as tilting their mobile phone up, down, left, and right.

Why It’s Hot

According to Google, these 360-degree video ads have higher view-through rates than standard video ads. For example, Coca-Cola’s 360 video had 36% higher view-through rates than standard videos. With the implementation of new technology on YouTube’s platform like 360-degree videos as well as virtual reality (i.e. Google Cardboard), there is even more potential for brands to connect with consumers in meaningful ways.

Source

Museum Takes Its Collection to the Streets | Guerrilla + Social Marketing Campaign | #ArtInsideOut

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is sharing it’s art collection in neighborhoods throughout the Philadelphia region as part of the Inside Out Exhibition.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art Inside Out fosters spontaneous interactions with art and adds to the beauty and vitality of local communities. Find a surprise at every turn, share on social media with dedicated hashtag, #ArtInsideOut, and come see the original artworks at your Philadelphia Museum of Art. 

Philadelphia Museum of Art Twitter | @philamuseum

Philadelphia Museum of Art Twitter | @philamuseum

This summer and fall, sixty high-quality replicas of Museum masterpieces will find their way into communities around the region. Each participating neighborhood will feature about ten artworks within a short distance of each other. Walk through the park, hop on a bike, or meander down Main Street through each exciting outdoor exhibition.

 

Inside Out will be presented in two cycles.Art2

Mid-May–August

To see what artwork is featured in each community, explore the maps below.

Residents from participating this summer will receive free general admission to the Museum from Friday, July 17, through Sunday, July 19, 2015. To gain free entry to the Museum that weekend, go to any Visitor Services desk and present your driver’s license or an ID card that lists one of these zip codes.his

Late August–mid-November
  • Locations: Fishtown and Kensington, Philadelphia // Ambler, PA // Norristown, PA // Wayne, PA // West Chester, PA

Why It’s HOT// It nails the very core of why guerrilla marketing is so effective. The campaign is completely unexpected, rooted in goodwill, and drives people to the museum with the offer of free admission. The dedicated hashtag and social component brings the entire campaign online even offering forms for registration for 2016.

Brainwave Headset Lets Travelers Fly to their Dream Destination

In a recent marketing campaign, S7 Airlines gave consumers with the opportunity to win free tickets to their dream destinations—provided they could think hard enough about their desired destination.
Brainwave Headset Lets Travelers Fly to their Dream Destination
The “Fly to any place you can imagine” campaign provided over 250 participants drawn from the crowds at the bustling Afimall City mall in Moscow, the opportunity to win free plane tickets to the destination of their choice.
Participants were asked to choose their destination, explain their rationale, and focus very hard on it, in order to guide the on-screen plane along the flight-plan whilst hooked to an EEG-brainwave headset right out of the annals of sci-fi. If the plane was able to reach the destination in 45 seconds, that zen master was then offered free tickets to that same location.

 

Why this is hot?  From a technology standpoint, this puts consumers in control of the experience. Imagine the consequences for the entertainment industry. What if we can create our own movies or change plots, based on our thoughts?

Source: psfk.com

Twitter Redesigns its Homepage to Lure In New Users

Twitter launched a new homepage this week designed specially for visitors who are not logged in to an account. The redesign offers real-time content from popular Twitter accounts for a similar experience to that of users who are logged in.

Read more via Venture Beat.

Why It’s Hot: Twitter found that the number of new birds joining the flock was down and sought to fix that. The company hatched the redesigned homepage solution with the hope that if the homepage is more engaging, more visitors will sign up and become active users. Since engagement is key to growing and maintaining a user base, it’s no surprise that Twitter is trying to engage visitors to its main site.

But rather than outwardly attempt to persuade people to start tweeting, the new homepage seems like a more effective way to reach site visitors by showing them what their experience could be like. Instead of telling people what benefits they’ll enjoy by using certain products or services, just show them.

The redesigned homepage is currently only available on the desktop website and its launch is limited to the U.S., but Twitter says that it intends to bring the homepage to more places over time.

Google Invites Fans to Explore NBC’s American Odyssey

NBC has teamed up with Google to promote a new drama series called “American Odyssey” premiering on the network this Sunday. “Explore American Odyssey” launched this week with Google mapping out the cities and key locations from the show. Through this companion website, fans can learn about the show by discovering more about the characters and unlocking clues to the show’s mystery plot with exclusive access to bonus content.

amod

amod2

Read more via Variety.

Why It’s Hot: It appears that NBC is amping up its partnerships to reach wider audiences – something we may see other networks and brands doing more for upcoming projects. For example, just last week NBC Universal and WWE unveiled a powerful comprehensive brand campaign to air across all of both brands’ networks and platforms, with a social component as well.

With so many options of shows and ways to view them, it’s no wonder we’re seeing more and more integration of these brands or TV shows/films with major media players and social platforms in order to better engage viewers. This past fall, we saw the Gone Girl on Pinterest to promote that film before its release. Perhaps these partnerships between brands and companies, from broadcast networks to technology giants, is something we’ll continue to see more of in order to more effectively reach and engage massive audiences.

Google Leverages Gaming for Timely, Interactive Fun

Google started its April Fools’ festivities a day early this week with Tuesday’s release of PAC-Maps, a new Google Maps feature that lets users play Pac-Man via various Google Maps locations. The locations and streets stay true to their form using the Google Maps overlay and the game is exactly how anyone who played it 35 years ago remembers it – without the clunky joystick though.

Users can play PAC-Maps on both their desktop and mobile devices.

pacmanpacMan Times Square Google

Over the years, Google has updated Google Maps to make it more accurate, comprehensive and useful.  From imagery of the coffee shop down the road to the Taj Mahal, or turn-by-turn navigation that helps you get to your first date on time or find your way to a famous landmark…they’ve worked hard to give people the best possible experience of the world around them. And now they have introducing their most ambitious update yet: PAC-Maps.

To play, users open a Google Maps location and click on the Pac-Man map option in the bottom left of the screen.

Google Maps pac-man

Google says that PAC-maps is “just the beginning” and mentions more possible April Fools’ features, including zombie incident alerts and intergalactic street views.

Why its Hot?

It’s relevant, timely, engaging, clever, share-able – and it’s a great example of utilizing interactive gaming to create brand recognition.  These are all great things for Google Maps, which is already widely used, but it can also be leveraged for brick & mortar retail or even destination and travel marketers that want to drive awareness to their location. A related story about Best Places to Play Pac-Maps, features locations such as Disney World, DC, Rio, Milan and Times Square (shown above). Unlike Pac Man, this clever idea has legs.

However, with control of mapping and location data comes marketing power. Google Maps had 82MM users at the end of 2013, that dropped off 43% in 2014. All forecasts indicate that local will continue to dominate mobile ad spend and so the invisible war Google is fighting to stave off apps like Apple Maps and even Amazon’s fledgling mapping API has significant relevance to anyone serving hyper-local ads.

What Will Social Media Be Like In The Future?

We live in a social media-obsessed society and a new study unveiled the way “likes” and the need for social media praise affect our day-to-day lives.

“‘Likes’ are a low-effort way of producing a feeling of social well-being that takes more effort to get in the real world.” – Joseph Grenny

Capturing the perfect moment is a lot like winning a trophy. People are more focused on winning the trophy than enjoying the actual moment that contributed to the win itself. The study discovered that the users who don’t focus on gaining likes/comments/followers tend to be happier than the users who solely focus on winning the “trophy”.

Takeaways from the study include:

  • About 58% of people surveyed said “posting the perfect picture has prevented them from enjoying life experiences.” Sound familiar? Trying to get that perfect concert photo, or just the right sunset pic sometimes interferes with enjoying the experience itself.
  • About 91% of the respondents said they’ve witnessed tourists miss a great moment because they were trying to capture it for social media. Many of that same 91% admits to doing the same thing themselves.
  • Three out of four people admitted to being rude or distant because they focus more on their phones than people, while one out of four said they’ve let their smartphones disturb “intimate” moments.
  • 14% of respondents say they’ve risked their own safety to get a like-worthy post. That’s basically the concept behind “do it for the Vine,” which isn’t always a great idea.

Infographic_LikesOverLife_Trophy Hunters_March 2015

Read more here: http://mashable.com/2015/03/13/social-media-ruining-your-life/

Why It’s Hot

More and more people need to see an increase in likes and/or comments on their social media posts to feel satisfaction.  This information shows us how important it is for brands to interact with fans on a daily basis through UGC encouragement.

“People don’t want to be paid. They want to be paid attention to.”- Josh Machiz

Instagram ‘Carousel’ Feature Adds More Photos to Its Ads

Instagram has unveiled a “carousel ads” format that will allow advertisers to post up to four photos, which users can then scroll through with a horizontal swipe. The carousel ads will also include a “Learn More” link that will lead to a dedicated landing page.

 

Why this is hot?

The new carousel ads, which are like print magazine spreads with links, allow advertisers to create deeper stories, providing more details and points of views, while the links add the opportunity to deliver a clear CTA that tells users exactly what to expect next.

Source: Re/Code

Johnnie Walker Unveils Smart Bottle That Sends Marketing Messages

Johnny Walker Blue Label’s prototype “smart bottle” enables the brand to, among other things, send targeted, personalized marketing messages to consumers, thanks to printed sensor tags in the bottle’s label.

These sensor tags are based on a technology called OpenSense, which uses smartphones’ near field communication (NFC) capabilities to allow any NFC-enabled smartphone to read the tags and display promotional offers, cocktail recipes or branded content.

 

Why this is hot?

Remember when you watch Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report and thought that cereal boxes talking to you was unbelievable science-fiction? Well, if a bottle label can access your smartphone’s data to send you laser-focused messages that are tailored to your habits, in order to prompt you to buy the product; imagine when every product in the supermarket can do that. The opportunities are endless, and so can be the disasters, if marketers don’t use this technology wisely.

Source: MediaPost

Diesel’s “The A-Z of Dance” Video has the Right Rhythm

fashion14_150Diesel’s “The A-Z of Dance” Video has the Right Rhythm //


Lifestyle content rooted in creativity and culture continues to be a main focal point for brand marketers. It all about mastering the emotional connection with consumers and sparking the meaningful engagement that follows. Diesel seems to have had success only one year after a similar execution by PUMA that fell flat on its face.
Diesel joined forces with i-D Fashion Magazine to create a video in April 2014, “The A-Z of Dance,” featuring Diesel’s #joggjeans. The video features the top talent making waves in pop culture today. Then Diesel makes it your turn to be The Star of their Next Video.

joggjeans

Now slip into your Jogg Jeans and show us your moves…We are now inviting fans across the globe to dance their way into a one-of-a-kind follow up film – upload your moves to Instagram, Vine etc using the hashtags #joggjeans and #iDdance.

Diesel drives fans to their Jogg Jeans site where they connect the video, the CTA and all social engagement with the hashtag, #joggjeans seamlessly in one place sealing the deal by featuring fans.

While the Diesel video has recently resurfaced thanks to Fast Company, it is difficult to forget that PUMA released the PUMA Dance Dictionary a year earlier in 2013. The concept was “Encrypt your messages into dance moves.” The video was created to celebrate the launch of the new PUMA “Sync” fragrances, the PUMA Dance Dictionary is a digital application that encrypts messages into dance moves. Don’t say it, move it. However, the effort was an epic failure and their site, pumadancedictionary.com, has become nothing more than inoperable code.

Why It’s HOTThis shows that hitting the mark by understanding the social media landscape and understanding your audience in a manner that allows a team to create something that not only resonates but generates authentic engagement is a skill set only the few can master.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEOS BELOW:

Diesel’s “The A-Z of Dance” // WARNING: Video Contains Twerking. Content Potentially Not Suitable for Children Under Age 13.

PUMA’s Dance Dictionary // WARNING: You will never get the next 2 minutes and 44 seconds of your life back after watching the video below in its entirety. 


Adweek summed it up best:

The Puma Dance Dictionary, created by Grey London to push the brand’s new Sync fragrances (yes, Puma makes fragrances), allows users to select words and phrases which are then translated into dance moves by freestyle performers. These “moving” messages can be shared via social media or emailed to friends. You start with various templates and then shift a few words in and out to create sentences. The pre-set “I love women with heart,” for example, can be changed to “I love women with popcorn.” Or “I love guys with muscles.” Or even “I love women with nuts,” if you’re into that. Manipulating other templates yields sentiments like “Money makes me want to get naked,” “Hey bro, your face is crazy” and “Will you stroke my girlfriend?” This can be amusing, but not very, as the vocabulary is too limited. I understand the dancers could interpret only so many words, and Puma naturally wants to avoid potential hate speech or outright vulgarity. But the enterprise seems hamstrung by a lack of true interaction.

Ouch. Sorry, PUMA.You were just out of “Sync” on this one. Better luck next time.

YouTube, We all Tube: Multi-Angle Viewing Comes to YouTube

Have you ever watched a video and wanted to view it from another angle? Maybe the shot was too wide or too close for your liking. Or perhaps you just want to be able to interact with your video content more closely.

Online video giant YouTube is trying out a new multi-angle viewing feature in a small-scale experiment rolling out this week.

Users can choose from one of four different angles and switch back and forth in real-time while the video plays. As of now, the new capability can only be experienced on one featured YouTube user’s channel. While other services have tried this feature before, YouTube has the sheer numbers and user base to make it work, with its 1 billion unique users each month.

Read more via Tech Crunch.

Why It’s Hot: Interactivity! It’s not enough to see interesting, entertaining content; people want to be able to engage with it too. Content becomes like a game. Perhaps instead of editors piecing bits of video together for a final product, viewers will soon be able to watch all recorded content and put it together in a way that suits them. The future of video is in our hands!