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

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.


Tinder Created a Show to Give Its Users Something to Hook Up About

For all of their success, swipe-y dating apps like Tinder or Bumble face a problem once their users have matched: It’s hard to find things to discuss with total strangers. What exactly are you supposed to say in response to “”?

In an effort to solve this, Tinder has created a scripted choose-your-own adventure series that it hopes will supply its young users with raw material for conversations on its platform. The goal is to counteract that chronic dating-app issue: conversations that die almost as soon as they begin.

The project, called SwipeNight, consists of four episodes. One will air each week on the Tinder app. In each episode, users who participate will be ushered through an apocalyptic scenario and prompted to make a series of choices, from the seemingly unimportant (how to best D.J. a party) to the critical (whose life to save). The show features a cast of young diverse actors and, like a video game, gives the user a first-person perspective on the action.

Participants will then show up in each other’s lists of potential matches. Some of the choices they made during the show will be visible on their profiles. That is when, the company hopes, a number of those people will swipe right on each other and talk about what they experienced.

Last year Tinder set up a team to survey hundreds of young people. This research helped the company see members of Generation Z as fundamentally different from older generations: Gen Z’s immense comfort on social platforms and immense discomfort with defining relationships, or even using words like “dating” and “flirting.”

SwipeNight also looks to take advantage of their facility with the raw material of pop culture.

“They speak in gifs, they react in emojis, they talk in stories,” said Elie Seidman, the chief executive of Tinder, of 18-to-25-year-olds, who already make up more than 50 percent of the app’s user base.

Tinder allows users little space to provide information about themselves on their profiles. That can lead to a particular shortage of subjects to discuss. On Tinder, Mr. Seidman said, approaching strangers is much easier than it is offline. “But you get to the next thing, and there’s no context,” he said. “What’s the context? ‘Oh, you’re also on Tinder.’ ‘Like, yeah, obviously.’”

Tinder has traditionally been viewed as a predate experience. SwipeNight looks to collapse some elements of a first date — the mutual experience of some diversion — into its platform.

Episodes of SwipeNight will be available on Tinder on Sundays in October from 6 p.m. to midnight in a user’s time zone. For now, the show will be available only to Americans.

Source: NY Times

Why It’s Hot

Unexpected time and place for what essentially is content marketing to drive stickiness with a platform. I do wonder if it’s too “cheesy” for Gen Z daters though?

Shuttershock Gets Strange…Imagines Stranger Things 3 with Only Stock Imagery

In preparation for the July 4 release of Netflix’s Stranger Things 3, Shutterstock has gotten in on the world of the Upside Down by releasing its own version made entirely of Shutterstock stock footage.

Via Adweek:

If you’re eagerly awaiting the July 4 debut of Stranger Things’ third season—dubbed Stranger Things 3—on Netflix, Shutterstock is hoping it can quench your thirst with a version of its own, made entirely from stock footage.

The stock-footage company’s new campaign, Strange Things, intended to parody the science-fiction horror aesthetic that’s made Stranger Things a pop-culture phenomenon and the recipient of dozens of awards nominations.

“Enjoy binge watching strange things?” the ad for Shutterstock reads as an ominous synth plays. “Well, you’re in luck. We have millions of strange things. Like 80’s things, shady things, upside down things—and even stranger things.”

Save for the iconic cast of the show, the video—made entirely from Shutterstock’s own assets—points to the breadth of the company’s stock-footage library.

Bada Bing! HBO Celebrates the Sopranos By Giving Brands Show-Inspired Nicknames

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the ground-breaking HBO show, the network decided to have a little fun and give brands who asked for them Sopranos-style nicknames only Tony could love.  

Image result for sopranos gifs

Via AdWeek:

HBO’s Twitter account today has been having a blast coming up with Sopranos-inspired nicknames for just about anyone who wants one, especially if it’s a brand or celeb with a decent-sized following.

Brainstormed in real-time by the in-house HBO Digital team alongside creatives from agency Engine, the nickname thread quickly became one of the most entertaining ways to spend your Thursday afternoon.

Obviously Wendy’s, queen of the Twitter cool kids, wanted in on the action:


A day on Twitter without Lin-Manuel Miranda is like a day without content, so clearly he needed to be a part of this moment—especially given his Sopranos cameo before Hamilton made him a household name.

Fresh off his stellar comeback via advertising, Macaulay Culkin got a perfect nickname from his Home Alone days:

You know what they say about Olive Garden. When you’re there, you’re…

Poor Jack Dorsey. He just wants to have some fun on his own platform, but even HBO can’t let him forget the global chorus of users asking for an “edit tweet” button. He seems to have taken it in stride, though, changing his display name to “Jackie No Edits.”

Personally, I probably laughed the hardest at this one for HBO’s own svp of digital and social, Sabrina Caluori:


Can you even call it an HBO party until Game of Thrones rides in on dragonback?

Why Its Hot: Brands playing with other brands in a cheeky continue to viral success.  Social media is about human interaction and tapping into emotions whether that be humor or outright snark (see Wendy’s).  If brands want to be on social media, they have to work to use the platforms like their consumers do.  Engaging other brands is an easy way to show a brand’s sense of humor…when done well.  HBO did a good job here, but when it comes to brands killing it on social media Wendy’s still holds the crown and no one is taking that away any time soon.

Choose Your Own Adventure Comes to Netflix’s Black Mirror

While everyone spent their Holiday breaks blindfolding themselves after watching “Bird Box” on Netflix against the advice of the streaming service, Netflix also rolled out an interactive standalone Black Mirror movie on Dec. 28.  The interactive movie allows viewers to choose the ending.

Image result for bandersnatch

Via NY Times:

“Black Mirror,” the speculative fiction series that encouraged people to be wary of new technology, is now hoping they will embrace it. The Netflix show released just one episode on Friday, a narrative titled “Bandersnatch” during which the viewer decides what will happen next.

It begins like this: Should the teenage video game whiz Stefan have Sugar Puffs or Frosties for breakfast? Soon the choices become more consequential. Will Stefan work at a game company, tell his therapist about his mother, take his meds? As so often on “Black Mirror,” reality is up for grabs.

Viewers are voting on more than who lives and dies on one program. If the response to “Bandersnatch” is enthusiastic, Netflix will take it as a strong signal that the public is ready for interactive movies and television shows, and a new age of storytelling will commence.

Not that the company needs much encouragement. It has already developed software to help organize stories that have endless permutations. It has perfected, or so it hopes, the technical ability to present these tales on multiple platforms around the world simultaneously. And it is calling for producers to submit interactive proposals in genres from horror to romantic comedy while hinting that it already has a few new shows in the works.

The idea behind the interactive push is simple: Viewers will care more if they are complicit.

“If bad things happen, you’ll feel even more crestfallen, because you were responsible,” said Todd Yellin, Netflix’s vice president for product. “If the character is victorious, you’ll feel even more uplifted because you made that choice.”

Source: NY Times, Read More Here.

Why It’s Hot: As more and more streaming services vie for the same pieces of the pie, services like Netflix and Hulu are constantly looking for ways to be the next most talked about show.  If “Black Mirror Bandersnatch” does well, interactive long form content may be the next big thing for entertainment, much like what “Avatar” did for 3D, and what Pokemon Go did for AR.

Stay Tuned.  The Future is Bright. 

Imagining What Radio of the Third Reich Would Be Like

The Man in the High Castle is an Amazon Original series based on Philip K. Dick’s novel of the same name, which imagines what the world (America, in particular) might look like if the Axis powers had won World War II.

To promote the show, Amazon Studios – the company’s film and series production arm – created a radio station that airs music and commentary from the world of The Man in the High Castle. Resistance Radio features four hours of original audio narrative from hosts broadcasting messages of hope and rebellion for an America ruled by Japan and Nazi Germany’s Axis powers

Why It’s Hot:

The immersive, transmedia experience takes an element of the series – the music – to bring the show to life. The music is recorded and performed the way music pre-1960 would have been. It also includes interludes and radio hosts promoting and/or speaking out against the fictional government to imitate the feeling of the show. Amazon has also taken into account the producers (Dangermouse/Sam Cohen) and artists (Beck, The Shins, Sharon Von Etten) of the music which lean a bit more indie and young to try and attract a younger audience that may not already be familiar with the show.

Hulu Lets You Watch Shows In A Virtual Living Room With Friends

Hulu recently announced an update to its mobile VR app for the Gear VR and its desktop app for the Oculus Rift, both of which will enhance the experience of viewing Hulu-branded content in VR through layered social dimensions.

Slip on a headset and join your friends as avatars composed solely of a floating head and hands, where you can share an Oculus Room and watch movies together. You’ll further be able to play with objects like a TV remote around the virtual space thanks to the inclusion of the Oculus Touch, though lack of avatar customization and the limited use cases for hands help center the attention around Hulu’s media.

Though social in VR is a hot topic, establishing a sense of community within an experience is difficult for a number of reasons – for one thing, most Hulu viewers don’t own a headset. Among those that do, not all of them actually use the platform on their Gear VR or Oculus. Moreover, the physical act of donning a headset is quite isolating; Hulu will have to mold the experience around tech-savvy friend circles who are comfortable sharing experiences digitally despite being distant in the material world.

View here

Source: PSFK.


Why It’s Hot:

Social VR is a category to keep an eye on. Brands are trying to take the “coldness” and “oneness” out of VR and recreate experiences of time with friends and family.


Deadpool’s Unconventional Marketing Pays Off

If you’ve been watching TV or on the internet at all in the past few months, you know that Deadpool was released this past weekend. With a heavy social media campaign, Deadpool was anywhere and everyone with clever marketing tactics including: positioning as a romantic film, emoji posters, and even a PSA for for Testicular Cancer.

The marketing is both tongue-in-cheek and meta with fourth-wall breaking. There seems to be little difference between the character of Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds, the actor who plays him — as much of the content has been released on Reynolds’ own social pages.

The success of the campaign can be attributed to the crazy and fun promotional stunts pulled such as Deadpool running for El Presidente, complete with his own SuperPac as well as tweeting during the premiere of ABC’s “The Bachelor” and having his own Tinder account.



Other examples include an “Extra” interview comfirming the R-Rating of the film. That video has since received over 8 million views. Deadpool also counted down the days to Christmas with “12 Days of Deadpool,” with new pieces of content being distributed daily, culminating in the release of the second movie trailer.

Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 12.40.49 PM Deadpool_Tinder-289x514


Why It’s Hot

Besides attracting lots of attention for their marketing stunts, Deadpool was able to shatter box office records its opening weekend, soaring past $130 million to make it the biggest opening ever for an R-rated movie. Fox had predicted an opening weekend of about $70 million. Because of its success, 20th Century Fox is considering making the third “Wolverine” movie R-Rated.

Fast and Furious the Ride: Faster and Furious-er

fasForget the commercials you’ve seen on television, the “Fast and Furious – Supercharged” ride at Universal Studios Hollywood is totally different than you’re expecting. The tram drives into a car garage similar to what you would see in any of the Fast and Furious films. The startling part takes place when actors Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriquez (in the roles of Dominic Toretto and Letty Ortiz) literally appear before you.

“It’s done with new technology which was developed by Universal Studios to deliver a real dimensional experience and the ability to look like realistic actors walking around,” said Executive Show Producer Chick Reynolds.

Then, as you’re appreciating the technology that placed these actors in front of you, you begin to race through the streets of Los Angeles going 100 miles per hour, being chased and dodging debris being flung at you.

All of this happens while the tram you’re sitting in hasn’t moved at all. According to Reynolds, it is a combination of flight simulation, synced with motion and adding wind queues to trick the brain into believing it’s real.

Source: ‘Fast and Furious’ Ride

Why It’s Hot: New advancements in technology not only make our lives easier and more efficient, they also transform the previously redundant into something magical and exciting – it’s rides like these that remind us to step back and smell the roses, to have a little fun in our rapidly moving lives.

How Old Navy is winning at YouTube

For Old Navy, YouTube is a way to show a funnier, looser side of the brand rather than going for the hard sell.

Its strategy revolves around TV ad outtakes starring spokeswomen Amy Poehler and Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Both TV campaigns turned the women into slightly deranged, Old Navy-obsessed versions of themselves. On YouTube, however, the brand’s posted outtake clips to its channel, letting their spokeswomen shine, without promoting products.

This approach has helped Old Navy amass a strong YouTube following for a retailer, with more than 17,000 subscribers. (Comparably, Gap has 6,000, Kohl’s has 13,000, Banana Republic has 2,000 and T.J. Maxx has a little over 1,000.)

Why It’s Hot

You don’t need to double up on the hard sell. Broadcast requires a TV spot to do a lot: include some humor, strike a little urgency, and ultimately sell a product. Old Navy realized they could let their spokeswomen really shine while continuing the conversation and entertaining people online with the great footage they got on set from outtakes.

This approach to video content online allows a brand to build an affinity with consumers, giving them a channel to watch something that’s purely entertaining and fun, beyond talking about the clothing. Consumers are more likely to spend their time online watching engaging content rather than straightforward advertisements.

MySpace Lives On, Thanks in Part to #TBT

If you haven’t heard, MySpace has had a bit a comeback. And though it may not have quite the $580 million luster it did 2005, the platform has had a resurgence.

According to its owner, Specific Media, MySpace:

  • Reached 50.6MM unique visitors in Nov. 14 (up 575% YOY)
  • Still has access to over 1B emails globally, including over 465MM in the U.S.
  • Has handled $5 billion in ad transactions for a set of beta advertisers Since launching the Advertising Cloud suite of products in the last seven months

The resurgence cannot be pinned to one action alone, but has instead been created by combining a number of variables:

  • Makeover into an arts & entertainment centric social platform
  • New found receptivity among young, niche audience (17-25s)
  • Repeat visits to find old photos driven by “Throwback Thursday”

MySpace knows it can’t build a social site on #TBT nostalgia, so it has invested a lot into cultivating a new audience and building a library of unique and sponsored content for them to consume.

Intrigued, I decided to sign up and explore the new MySpace.

When you arrive at the MySpace's new landing page, it almost feels more like an entertainment news site than a social platform.

When you arrive at the MySpace’s new landing page, it almost feels more like an entertainment news site than a social platform.

If you decide to register, MySpace has created a new user segmentation framework that caters to users’ specific creative backgrounds and interests. A note to those who register, if you choose to speed up the registration process by linking a Facebook or Twitter account be prepared to consent to a whole lot of data-mining. You also consent to give MySpace posting rights to share on your behalf… something I certainly was not willing to do at this stage.

New registration flow that segments users by creative interest.

New registration flow that segments users by creative interest.

The new approach to profiles is slick and feels distinct, albeit a little sparse. Important to note, “Tom” is no longer your friend.

Profiles feel quite different than most other social platforms out there.

Profiles feel quite different than most other social platforms out there.

But a new account should be sparse right?  So I went to create my first post. After selecting that I wanted to share a song, I searched for a track that (surprisingly) could not be found in MySpace’s library.



MySpace Post


I posted my track, but my profile remained a bare snare drum. Where did the post go?  Evidently into a new “Stream” feed that takes a typical “News Feed” and flips it horizontally. This creates a weird and confusing experience. Why wouldn’t my post appear on my actual profile?

MySpace's "Stream" attempts to create a content feed of posts and activity by users, including curated content. But the experience leaves something to be desired.

MySpace’s “Stream” attempts to create a content feed of posts and activity by users, including curated content. But the experience leaves something to be desired.

Why It’s Hot

So the new MySpace.com is major departure from its lineage. Focused on content catered to a niche community of artists, musicians and content creators, the site doesn’t feel like it’s made for everyone. And I think that’s part of its appeal. Specific Media has the business data to show there is still life in the faded platform, and with strong focus on content MySpace might be able to retake the sought after “creative” social arena. MySpace is certainly not the first to try its hand in this space, but for advertisers their mounds of user data may distinguish the platform from the competitors. But more than ads, MySpace needs to expand the reach of its rich content to beyond the walls of MySpace if it wants to break away from the site’s still tarnished reputation.

Pay Per Laugh

A comedy club in Barcelona is experimenting with charging users per laugh, using facial-recognition technology to track how much they enjoyed the show.

“The first comedy theatre where you only pay for what you consume.”

The software is installed on tablets attached to the back of each seat at the Teatreneu club. Each laugh is charged at 0.30 euros (23p) with a cap of 24 euros (£18). Takings are up so far.

Read more here.

Why It’s Hot

Tech with a purpose: This “performance-based entertainment” experiment — a creative use case for facial recognition tech – was a reaction to increased government taxes on theatre tickets, which in turn led to drastic drops in audience numbers.

And it’s proven to work: The results of the experiment have so far proved positive with overall ticket prices up by 6 euros, according to the theatre.

Did you know? The advertising agency was The Cyranos McCann.

Scripps Networks Agrees To Supply Channels To Dish Network’s Planned Streaming Video Service

HGTV, Food Network, and Great American Country aren’t the first channels that come to mind when one thinks about programming for millennials. But following an agreement announced this morning, the Scripps Networks Interactive channels will be part of the package that Dish Network is assembling for its planned broadband video service that will target young viewers who want a low-cost alternative to the full pay TV bundle that many consider to be too expensive. The companies agreed to a multi-year contract renewal that will add DIY Network and Cooking Channel to Dish’s “America’s Top 200″ package, and give the No. 2 satellite company additional opportunities to offer Scripps’ services on its video on demand (VOD) offerings and TV Everywhere streaming platform for subscribers both in and out of the home.

“We are committed to making our lifestyle content available to consumers wherever and whenever they want it,” Scripps CEO Kenneth Lowe says. “This first-of-its-kind OTT [for ‘Over The Top,’ industry jargon term  for the Internet] deal for Scripps Networks Interactive enables us to reach even more people through Dish’s innovative services.”

Why it’s not:

Interestingly, this new broadband service likely will offer a single stream, preventing families from using it to watch different channels on different TVs or devices at the same time. Dish has to be careful to ensure that the new offering attracts non-subscribers — without tempting people who buy the full pay TV bundle to trade down to save money. Will this service attract those who are leaving traditional cable?  or will it cannibalize traditional cable base?  Or will this be another content vehicle that feeds our insatiable hunger for more entertainment?