Friday, October 31, 2008

Hang Out In Malls During The Holiday

In order to promote shopping in malls in times of financial difficulties, US magazine Teen Vogue - part of the Conde Naste group - will be setting up various pop-up like environments were teen girls can "come together, be girls, and shop together".

The stores will offer free snacks, informal modeling, a perfume bar, a makeup station, charging stations for cellphones and iPods, a gift-wrapping counter and racks of clothes. There will also be stylists and attendants at the store who will advise visitors on lipstick, shoes and outfits. To the benefit of retailers, the stylists will also guide shoppers to stores in the mall where they can buy the products.

More than 20 Teen Vogue advertisers are participating in the initiative, including Clinique, Armani Exchange and Aldo.

Teen Vogue did not charge most advertisers to participate in the store. Instead, it was offered as a perk to some top advertisers, while others were asked to buy an extra page or two in the December/January issue of Teen Vogue.

Ad pages at Teen Vogue were down 4.8 percent for the first nine months of the year, but ad revenue was up 4.6 percent as a result of the announcement of the latest initiative - including six new advertisers.

Source: NY Times

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Scrolling In Thin Air

Having taken a beating in terms of marketing by Apple, Microsoft hopes that its latest challenge to the Apple iPhone in the form of the multi-touch interface would win the brands some points in the marketplace.

The PC maker released their innovative SideSight system last week which allows users to control actions on a cell phone screen by moving their fingers along side the device. Infrared sensors pick up motions up to 10 centimeters away and translate them into movement on the screen.

Like the iPhone, the device supports multi-touch interactions. By coordinating fingers on either side, the user can drag, rotate and change the size of images on the display. When photos become larger than the tiny screen, people reported feeling that they were touching the imaginary edges of the photos. Apparently, the device currently places a huge strain on the battery, a fault the researchers aim to rectify before making the device available to consumers.

Via: New Scientist, PSFK

Monday, October 27, 2008

Social Networking For Small Brands

An product - which began as a joke between founder and friends Dave Lefkow and Justin Esch - has taken off in the US, all through the clever use of social media.

The duo thought it'd be a great idea to make a spice which made everything taste like bacon and began working on the product, now known as Bacon Salt.

Once production of Bacon Salt got underway, the two posted a MySpace profile dedicated to it. They then spent countless hours mining MySpace data, sending messages and "friending" anyone who declared an affinity for bacon in their profiles. Allegedly, they found 37,000 MySpace members mentioned bacon in profiles.

The "spamming," as Esch initially called it, generated a surprising result: not only were people adding Bacon Salt, they were ordering the product even before Lefkow and Esch had ramped up production. Their "cute side project," as Lefkow described it, suddenly got serious.

Before long, the word on Bacon Salt was spread virally on other social networking sites. One of those friended on MySpace wrote a lengthy post about the product on, a message board for University of Kansas sports fans. The one post alone drew over 2,000 comments - and another spate of orders.

Now, they're branching into advertising in social media. They've found success with Facebook ads and were early testers of MySpace's MyAds self-service banner system. Esch said the ads end up amplifying the buzz Bacon Salt has generated through blogger outreach. What's more, the social buzz has leaped into mainstream media, including a prominent placement on the MSN home page, Entrepreneur magazine, as well as several US TV and radio segments.

Via: Adweek

Friday, October 24, 2008

Future Gazing Magazine

A new free online publication has recently launched its first edition. Called H+ (Humanity Plus), the quarterly magazine will explore scientific, technological, and cultural developments that are overcoming human limitations.

It's a fascinating read and for a must for everyone interested in future trends, news and cutting edge ideas.

Click here to sign up for H+.


Creative Capitalism Shifts Focus To Capitals

While most fair-trade businesses up until now have made social consciousness their major selling point, a new company, based in Indonesia by the name of CraftNetwork has built its business on a more traditional model: large quantities of uniform products, built to near exact specs and supplied at competitive prices.
Chris Benz, the company’s founder, has arranged for over a thousand artisans to create an array of products such as jewelery, home decor, sculptures and other decorative products. The artisans work in their homes or village workshops, allowing CraftNetwork to sell large quantities of product to major wholesale buyers, and ultimately delivering profits back to the artisans themselves.

Benz says, “I have a whole village employed, a whole village that’s bringing in $70,000 a month – based on one order.” That one order was from Carnival Cruise Line, which has bought 50,000 books weaved of banana leaves.

As an added benefit, CraftNetwork also provides financial advice, computer literacy training, and business building techniques to their team of freelancers.

Via: CraftNetwork, BusinessWeek

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Somebody Else's Phone

Nokia, in promotion of their new 7610 Supernova phone, is making use of the "digi-real" trend to great effect by tapping into our inherent curiosity (nosiness) when it comes to someone else's business.

The campaign allows users the chance to flick through someone’s phone, including text messages, personal contacts, diary entries, photos, voicemails and private video clips, demonstrating just how central our phones have become to our ability to function as well as how hard opportunities like that are to pass up.

Following three fictional characters, Jade, Lucas and Anna, the storyline evolves across three time zones and will be constantly updated with content for six weeks, to reveal over 3750 pieces in total.

The campaign targets a younger audience, and is designed to reflect their media consumption habits, and the rapid refresh rates that sites like Twitter and Facebook status updates encourage. A direct dialogue with the characters can be built up through their Facebook pages, as well as by discovering their mobile numbers, with the opportunity to text or call them directly.

Sounds like an intriguing campaign and with enough initial exposure, it'll no doubt be a successful one too. Have a look at the campaign site by clicking here.

Brands Associated With US Presidential Hopefuls

In the 2008 US Presidential Image Power Survey, released by branding agency Landor Associates in conjunction with Penn, Schoen & Berland, voters were asked to associate the potential presidential and vice presidential candidates with brands including fictional spies, retail outlets, snack foods and cars - with some interesting results. The survey polled 1,002 registered Democratic, Republican and independent voters between 1st to 6th Oct 2008.

AdAge reports that voters associated Obama with BMW, Google and Target, while McCain was compared to Ford, Wal-Mart and AOL. While you would expect the two candidates to have very different associations, there were some similarities too. Some common characteristics between the candidates were associations with brands such as iPod, Starbucks and MySpace.

Scott Siff, exec VP at Penn, Schoen & Berland, said "This shows that the candidates have a lot of similarities from a branding perspective, most of all the notion that they are both game changers."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Exclusive Online Shopping

It would appear that some niche e-marketers have not only been immune to the recent financial turmoil, but have even managed to improve their sales over the past few months.

We've previously written about high-end fashion retail site Ideeli, whose exclusive members were initially by-invitation only. AdAge shows that various other similar sites, such as, and, have all shown performance improvements in website traffic and sales. Since January, the number of unique visitors has skyrocketed from less than 20,000 to roughly 160,000 per month at both Gilt and Ideeli.

Invitation-only retail sites have already taken off, it would seem. French company, Vente Privee, claims $700 million in annual sales for the past year - in a market that is only a fifth of that of the US (prior to recession).

As for the reason for their recent success, Paul Hurley, Ideeli's founder-CEO, says that because consumers are engaged, there is an opportunity to better educate them about brands in a way that doesn't feel like advertising. "If you go to Ideeli, it doesn't look like there's any advertising. It's fully integrated, and it's structured in such a way that we can solve a lot of different types of very practical problems that marketers have," he said. "We run six to eight different types of programs, depending on what you're trying to accomplish in your marketing or clearing of inventory."

Via: AdAge

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Electric Car Charging Infrastructure In Germany Soon

It has been announced that Berlin will kick off the world’s largest effort to get electric cars on the road.
Plans have been approved for the creation of 500 power-points around the city where electric cars can charge up. Electric company RWE will be responsible for installing the charging stations, and Daimler AG and Smart seem to be the first motoring manufacturers on-board with the effort, having pledged at least 100 electric Smart Cars on the streets of Berlin by the end of 2009.

It would seem Greenpeace has some reservations about the latest initiative, as there have been no guarantees as yet regarding whether the source of the electric power to be used to power the recharge points will originate from renewable sources. Greenpeace also stated that if coal powered electricity is used, the environment would actually be better off if we all started using cleaner diesel fuel.

Via: PSFK, Treehugger

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unwavering Desire For Luxury Cars

Luxury car manufacturers have already begun feeling the negative effects as a result of the global economy. Coupled with the eco-consciousness of so many consumers, resulting in them now keeping their cars for longer periods or trading down.

Trendhunter, however, shows that there is still some light at the end of the tunnel for luxury car manufacturers. It seems that the US version of AutoTrader's traffic shows that the highest searches were for fantasy niche cars like the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Corvette during September. More ordinary cars such as the Jeep Wrangler ranked highly in searches.

It seems as though that the interest and demand for luxury cars is still there, it's just about finding a way to match offers to satisfy consumers' pockets.

Via: TrendHunter

Friday, October 10, 2008

Best Buy Listens

US consumer electronic retailers Best Buy has been listening to consumers. Through their latest initiative, known as Blue Label, Best Buy will be addressing customer needs in a way that no retailer has done before by providing feedback to manufacturers in order to better product offerings.Best Buy learnt from their customers that they were after more from the feature set on available laptops and went directly to manufacturers to address the issue. Some of the requested details include backlit keyboards, thin and light design and free warranties. Currently, Toshiba and HP Lenovo are on board with the program and both manufacturers have exclusive laptops on sale now at Best Buy.

Financial viability for initiative such as this one must be a deterring factor for many companies, but with Best Buy's footprint and influence, the success of this initiative could lead to a whole new way for manufacturers and product developers to gain inspiration for their designs.

Via: I4U, Best Buy

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Trading Down But Still Brand Conscious

With consumers now far less willing to spend valuable disposable income with the worldwide economy in full retreat, the logical assumption is that consumers would be willing to temporarily fore-go brands and spend their hard-earned money in a much more sensible manner.

Fastcompany's October issue highlighted a piece of research which shows a creative way in which consumers are attempting to keep hold onto the status afforded to them by brands - by buying counterfeit.

It appears that although the seizures of counterfeit goods made by the U.S. government in 2007 amounted to 13000 - 1000 less than in 2006, the value of the seizures, however, has increased by 27%

The largest sufferers as a result of knock-offs are the computer software brands, with losses of around US$34 billion.

Sim City To Be Invaded By Advertising?

The Sims 3 is set for launch in February 2009. The makers and developers of the popular video game promises that the new version will be more realistic than ever, thanks to improved graphics, better processing power and an increase in ads.

Electronic Arts, maker of "Sims 3," is working with IGA to provide dynamic in-game ads - which can be switched in and out of the game via an internet connection - to the latest version of what has become the world's most-played PC game.

In its first new version in five years, "Sims" players will be able to venture beyond their houses and lots out into Pleasantville, where they can go to the movie theater, the sports arena or the grocery store. It's a more open experience, akin to newer online virtual worlds, although it's still a single-player game.

With the average time spent by Sims players measured to be about 1.7 hours with the game per sitting and spending 47.6 hours with the game in total, a serious amount of one-on-one contact with potential targets can be had by various brands.

The ramification for brands is rather exciting. Imagine helping the players' Sim feel better through the purchase of your headache tablet brand, or become more sociable and confident through the purchase of your new sneakers, new opportunities are abound for brands out there who are paying attention.

Via: AdAge

Research: Using The Right Brand Improves Performance

NY Times' Consumed magazine has brought to attention a new study which proves that exposure to brands overall can have a significant effect on our performance in many aspects in life.

The example of Speedo's warm up parka that was originally designed for Michael Phelps was highlighted. The suit was initially made only for Phelps until consumer demand prompted Speedo to manufacture the jacket for purchase. Thousands have already been sold - but unlike the $550 consumer version of its LZR Racer suits that Phelps wore while swimming, the parka will not actually make people faster physically. The psychological effect is what improves the athletes' performances

Gavan Fitzsimons, a professor of marketing and psychology at Duke, elaborates on how the subliminal effect might work:

“The trick is, the first time you wore the warm-up parka,” it wouldn’t have any effect, he says. “Because you’d realise, Oh I’m being ridiculous.” Wear it often enough, though, and you’ll probably stop ruminating about it. “Below the level of conscious awareness, you’d put the jacket on, and what’s activated in your mind is maybe Michael Phelps going very fast,” he continues. “And those things could actually kick up your motivation to go faster.”

It seems to good to be true, but the power of the human mind can clearly be influenced by brands in amazing ways. Great news for brand builders, let's hope the majority of brands out there bear this thought in mind in their future campaigns.

Via: New York Times

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Real Gaming Car

Citroen merged the real and virtual worlds at the Paris auto show last week when they unveiled their latest creation.

The "GTbyCITRO√čN" sportscar was the result of a partnership between the French auto manufacturer and Polyphony Digital Inc, the creators of the popular Gran Turismo series.

The exterior design of the car is a modern look at a racing coupe. The concept uses sharp body lines and dynamic shapes to communicate performance and speed. In the game version the car is powered by a zero emission fuel cell and electric drivetrain. There’s however, any further information on how the real prototype will be powered or whether it runs at all.

A great example of a brand willing to take a risk in further developing their name and reputation by embracing the gaming world and testing out how to potentially integrate it into product development.

For the official press release and more photos, please click here.

Via:PSFK, Jalopnik

Lower Insurance Premiums By Gaming

An insurance company call Allstate has begun making use of a rather different sort of method in order to determine clients and potential clients' insurance premiums.

The company launched an es online video game tests to identify safe older drivers. The program named InSight uses simple games that measure brain fitness. Allstate is hoping that gaming proficiency will indicate aptitude with the same skills in real life. One of the games, Jewel Diver: Divided Attention tests subjects ability to track multiple objects at a time. The InSight program plans to offer insurance discounts to drivers over 50 who successfully pass the online tests.

Seeing as various forms of video games have been utilised for decades by the likes of the military and the aviation industry, the latest effort by Allstate comes as little surprise.