Monthly Archives: September 2012

SEPTEMBER 2012 // ISSUE 41

STATE OF AMERICA

American Dream In The Balance  – Since the phrase was coined more than 80 years ago, the “American Dream” has proved an enduring concept. Advertising agency JWT has tracked how perceptions of the American Dream have shifted in the last four years by comparing findings from a similar JWTIntelligence survey conducted during the last presidential campaign. So what does the dream look like today versus four years ago? Some things actually are the same, including the top five factors that respondents say are a part of what the American Dream means today: finding happiness, personal independence, fulfilling my potential, home ownership and freedom to be able to go anywhere. But there have been changes. Americans today are more likely to believe the dream is about having wealth, access to credit, fame and recognition. This isn’t an unconscious shift–people polled this year say that in the past the dream was more about middle-class values, community, family and getting married. Today respondents say consumption, making a lot of money, fame, equality and succeeding professionally are more commonly part of the dream.

Via JWT

 

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Nielsen’s Economic Divide – Over the next ten years, the total number of households in the U.S. is expected to grow by 8%; however, households closer to the poverty level will grow twice as fast at 17%. To better understand consumers across the economic spectrum, Nielsen conducted an analysis of consumer behaviors and media usage. Results revealed dramatic differences in purchasing and media consumption patterns across income levels. Spending on consumer packaged goods varies by income level with higher-income households spending nearly $1200 more per year than lower-income households. Shopping behaviors also vary with lower-income shoppers shopping more frequently and having smaller baskets, while higher-income shoppers spend more than $10 per trip. When it comes to media consumption, income levels influence media purchases and the means by what content is accessed. While higher-income consumers are unique in their access to various devices and media types, lower-income consumers are distinguished in their higher than average consumption of the media they do have access to, including digital media. As devices get more affordable, it looks as technology will prove to be the great economic leveler and give all consumers more access to media.

Via Nielsen 

 

SMART BRANDS

Online Dating Goes Offline- Online dating has gone “retro” with the latest high-tech dating technology, bringing people together the old-fashioned way, with singles parties where people can crowd together at bars while consuming alcohol and flirting. “There have been so many times I’ve met up with someone from the Internet in person and didn’t feel a spark,” said Emily Clapp, who was at a recent beer-tasting event organized by the popular dating site OkCupid. “It’s so disappointing to invest all that time e-mailing and then…nothing.” Like many others, Ms.Clapp says the offline events can help identify a potential date more quickly. Online, they find they can spend weeks or months exchanging messages with someone and then schedule dinner or drinks – only to realize within minutes that the date is a dud. There is only so much you can do online with data. There’s always the unknown factor that has to do with pheromones and human nature, making meeting someone at a bar new again.

Via The Atlantic Wire

 

BRIGHT IDEAS

History Books Come Alive On Facebook’s Timeline- History classes have created a new approach to studying major historical events. Amsterdam-based school, 4e Gymnasium, has taken advantage of the popularity of Facebook and the user-friendly Timeline feature to inspire a curriculum. The page allows students to create posts, link various media and generate dialogue with fellow classmates. The class is focusing on four subjects: Magellan’s voyages, 20th century inventions, Fashion history from 1950-present and the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. By focusing on the content and the chronology of events, students are able to experience a larger understanding of cultural and social themes, trends and milestone achievements. Watch the video here.

Via PSFK

ON THE RADAR

Culture Observation: In yet another sign that iPhones are taking over our lives, the New York Police Department has established an iPhone Operation I.D. Program to better protect and serve its smartphone-addicted citizens. The I.D. Program’s goal is to preemptively fight iPhone theft by encouraging customers to register their device’s serial number with the NYPD. Establishing ownership of a device before it’s stolen will let customers recover a stolen device without hassle. If you live in New York, the NYPD has made signing up even easier by posting themselves right outside the flagship Apple store on Fifth Avenue.

 

Yahoo! News | September 21, 2012

 

Try This Site: If This Then That is a startup that helps connect all the apps and websites you use on a daily basis so that digital happenings can have real-world consequences. For example, do you ever take an Instagram photo and then send it to Gmail to print later? You could make a recipe on the IFTTT site which basically says, “If an Instagram photo is taken, then send that photo to Gmail.” After you set the recipe once, the internet automatically does the rest of the work for you. Even if you aren’t a coding genius, you can browse through other users’ recipes and pick ones most useful to your daily life.

 

Watch This Video: This week Justin Timberlake helped relaunched the newly redesigned MySpace site. The visually arresting interface scrolls horizontally, and its focus on visual design makes it look very similar to Pinterest. Aside from aesthetics, the new MySpace is different because it will focus more narrowly on becoming a social home for musicians, artists, celebrities and their fans. You can request an invite for a MySpace account, or you can check out the new site design by watching this video.

 

2012 CultureFlash Recap: What We’ve Learned // Volume 1

KEY THEMES

STATE OF AMERICA

Generation Flux: Change is happening at a dizzying pace

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

The Social Network Society: The rise of social media is changing the way people act and behave

SMART BRANDS

The Branding Of Culture: Be part of the cultural conversation by being part of the daily routine

BRIGHT IDEAS

5 Ideas Worth Revisiting

SEPTEMBER 2012 // ISSUE 40

STATE OF AMERICA

The Internet Is The New Town Hall – People probably already know about a couple of ways to log formal gripes with their city about things like downed tree limbs, crummy garbage service or graffiti. A person could call up their councilmember, or file a 3-1-1 ticket or even turn up for a public meeting. These methods, though, have been found to be be intrusive and inconvenient. But what if people never even had to contact City Hall about needed road repair on Main Street because City Hall already saw their tweets? Cities are trying to go where the people are already publicly expressing themselves thanks to IBM’s Smarter Cities program. The program’s software claims it can determine aggregated public opinion – positive, neutral and negative – in the millions of data points that make up social media ramblings.Cities would be able to answer questions like: Are parents in Chicago supportive of the teachers’ strike? What are New York subway riders saying about the new trash program? Or what are Los Angelenos about the crackdown on pot dispensaries? These sentiment analysis tools work precisely because people have made so many of their private thoughts publicly available in cyber space. From a city’s perspective, the Internet is the new town hall. “Think about health care services, think about the pothole, think about the bus and transportation capability that could be rerouted and moved as a result of understanding things a few minutes sooner,” Chris O’Connor, vice president for IBM Industry Solutions Software says. As many have experienced, five minutes can make a huge difference in a traffic jam.

Via The Atlantic

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Forget Information Overload, It’s Information Just-Right-Load – Contrary to many experts’ warnings that the “always-on” media environment has “overwhelmed” audiences, a study by Northwestern University and the University of Michigan found that participants said they felt “empowered” and “enthusiastic” about the volume of information at their fingertips, not overloaded. Participants expressed near-unanimous enthusiasm about the new media environment stated the report. Instead of feeling burdened by choice many participants enjoyed the freedom it brought, especially the range of information available online. Social networking sites didn’t receive that same endorsement from interviewees, who said that when it comes to Facebook and Twitter, it’s the quality of information not the quantity that turns them off. There is a distaste for activities on social network sites, suggesting that many people are annoyed by what they perceive as the minutia of people’s lives fed to them through Facebook and Twitter.

Via Huffington Post

SMART BRANDS

Grocery Stores Gain Edge With In-Store Dieticians – There’s been an explosion of interest in having a dietitian among grocery store retailers in the last three or four years.  According to Phil Lempert, a grocery industry expert, the dietitian’s role is expanding. “The field of nutrition is getting more and more complicated,” Mr. Lempert said. Dietician services are sweeping the grocery business as it tries both to capitalize on growing consumer awareness of the role food plays in health and wellness and to find new ways to distinguish themselves from competitive food retailers. Sara Steinbach, a grocery store dietitian, relayed she had never seen interest in the position so high. “I think retailers are starting to see our value,” she said. “They can document increased sales of healthier items; the e-mails from shoppers wanting appointments; and the invitations from manufacturers wanting us to come to their conferences.” From Hy-Vee to Wegmans to Whole Foods are providing dietitians to their customers for in-store consultations, store tours, cooking classes, assembling take-home meals and taking biometric screenings.Communities are even using their services for presentations in schools, local businesses and even help communities set up their gardens.”Customers don’t have a lot of time or don’t know what they’re looking for.The claims on the front of the packaging aren’t always about nutrition, or sometimes they just don’t know what’s important,” Kristen Decker, a Hy-Vee dietitian says. Shoppers are looking to stores to help educate them on complex topics and help them navigate their choices especially in the confusing realm of nutrition.

Via NYTimes

BRIGHT IDEAS

Google Keynote: Marketing Worth Sharing – Tom Fishburne, a cartoonist that frequently speaks on innovation, marketing and creativity, was the keynote speaker at Google’s “Think Branding” event this month. Tom shared five insights about creating marketing worth sharing.

1 – Technology can’t save a boring idea but it can accelerate a remarkable one.

2 – People don’t buy brands because of what they do. They buy brands because of why they do it.

3 – Being mass market does not mean appealing to everyone. By appealing to everyone, brands end up being meaningful to no one. And you have to be meaningful to be shared.

4 – Don’t be a one-hit wonder. A loyal following is more important than a viral video. Continuity trumps virality.

5 – Marketing is not about convincing audiences how awesome brands are. Marketing is about helping a brand’s audience become more awesome.

Via TomFishburne.com

ON THE RADAR

Learn This: JOMO – The “Joy of Missing Out” (JOMO) is the counterpoint of the much talked about FOMO or “fear of missing out.” In an age where social media has made us even more aware of the things we are missing out on, JOMO is an attitude that embraces the enjoyment of knowing that there are folks out there having the time of their life at something that you are choosing to skip. There’s a lot of pressure in society to constantly update where you are, what you are doing and whom you are with. The JOMO attitude can help relieve the pressure and anxiety of constantly comparing your life with that of your friends.

NYTimes | August 25, 2012

Watch This: Tickets are on sale for a planned political debate between Jon Steward and Bill O’Reilly. The event, officially billed as “O’Reillv v Stewart 2012: The Rumble In The Air-Conditioned Auditorium,” costs $75-$100 a ticket. For those who can’t afford to attend, event organizers are going the route of Louis CK and offering viewers access to a live stream of the debate Saturday, October 6th at 8PM ET. Cost for a streaming pre-order is a more wallet-friendly at $4.95, with half of online profits going to charity.

Try This Site:

Pardon me – are you friends with Grey Poupon? Grey Poupon released a Facebook app which uses an algorithm to interpret a user’s percentage of good taste. Those who wish to ‘like’ the brand will have to have their application reviewed based upon specific lifestyle measures ranging from proper use of grammar, restaurant check-ins, books read and movie selections. Those accepted into the exclusive Society of Good Taste will have access to special deals and promos. Are you fancy enough to be friends with Grey Poupon? Try it out here.

SEPTEMBER 2012 // ISSUE 39

STATE OF AMERICA

Gen Z: The Next Generation-   Following Millennials is Generation Z , anyone born in the early mid-90’s and beyond,the first generation to have always known the digital world.  They don’t think about digital or traditional, it’s all the same to them. Being truly digital isn’t the only way they differ from previous generations though. They are educated to care. Their values and concerns about the world reflect their knowledge of wider events as well doubts and fears within their own families and communities. This generation lives with change in a way that nobody has before. It’s absolutely embedded into their psyche; they won’t be fazed by it either in a way that previous generations have, because they have been brought up to expect it. These children were born into a recession and have different expectations and perhaps less of a sense of entitlement. Very aware of a shortage of money and unemployment has caused many to acknowledge they work for pocket money and are accustomed to waiting for special occasions to get things. Being accustomed to uncertainty and a lack of institutions or leaders they can count on to protect them and their welfare will create individuals with a new understanding of personal power. They are learning to negotiate and understand the power they have in relation to brands. Which has also lead to taking part in decision making in their own families much earlier. The challenges the world has wrestled with when communicating with Millennials, it seems will be intensified with Gen Z

Via JWT

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

The Daily Deal Fatigue – Daily deal services – like Groupon, Living Social and Google Offers – took off because small businesses got a novel way to bring new customers in the door, shoppers got a discount and the deal providers got a large cut of every sale. But signs of deal fatigue are everywhere, raising questions about whether Groupon and its competitors can continue their hyper-growth. While traffic to Groupon was higher at the beginning of 2012 than last year, it was down almost 10 percent in May and June from the same months in 2011, according to comScore. Facebook and Yelp were quick to jump on the fad, but backed off last year. Groupon is searching for alternative ways to make money, like buying movie tickets, watches and other goods and selling them to shoppers. In the last six months of 2011, 798 daily deal sites shut down, according to Daily Deal Media, which researches the industry.  The daily deal bubble has burst.  Too many companies have popped up but the interest has been lagging as people are feeling overwhelmed by the numbers of deals they receive on a daily basis.  Others feel the daily-deal industry is too crowded and they’ve opted out of signing up. Unsubscribedeals.com has become a support group for shoppers who are fed up with deals. Some commenters take issue with the frequency of the e-mails, while others complain about the quality of the offers. “I once got a Groupon for teeth whitening,” one person wrote. “I went to the office and the receptionist gave me some bleach and told me to do it at home. She said it would be extra if I wanted the dentist to do it.”

Via NYTimes

SMART BRANDS

Amazon Changed Reading Now It Can Change Writing   – Throughout its 17-year history, Amazon has helped change the way that books are sold, the format in which they’re read and how they are published. Now it could change how they’re written.In addition to the Kindle Fire HD and the Kindle Paperwhite, Amazon introduced a subscription book format at a press conference in Los Angeles Thursday. These books, called “Kindle Serials,” will be released in segments instead of in their entirety. Updates, or “episodes,” automatically appear at the back of the book as they’re created or released without extra charge.  “Kindle Series authors will be able to follow along with reader reaction and adapt the next installments based on the first ones,” Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon said. Amazon will provide discussion boards for each Kindle Serials book. Unlike most book discussion boards, they may influence the outcome of the books.  Publishing one segment at a time will enable authors, like app developers, to make decisions based on user activity. Data analytics will push that ability to another level. Digital has transformed all media to some extent and now it’ll be changing what people read and what authors ultimately write.

Via Oreilly.com

BRIGHT IDEAS

The $1.3 Trillion Price of Not Tweeting At Work  –  As social media spreads around the globe, one enclave has proven stubbornly resistant: the boardroom. Within the C-suite, perceptions remain that social media is at best a soft PR tool and at worst a time sink for already distracted employees. Without a push from the top, many of the biggest companies have been slow to take the social media plunge. A new report from McKinsey Global Institute, however, makes the business case for social media a little easier to sell. According to an analysis of 4,200 companies by the the consulting giant, social technologies stand to unlock from $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value. Savings comes from some unexpected places. Two-thirds of the value unlocked by social media rests in “improved communications and collaboration within and across enterprises,” according to the report. Far from a distraction, in other words, social media proves a surprising boon to productivity. Companies are embracing social tools – including internal networks, wikis, and real-time chat- for functions that go way beyond marketing and community building. Social technologies also has the potential to free up expertise trapped in departmental silos. High-skill workers can now be tapped company-wide. Managers can find out which employees have the deepest knowledge in certain subjects, or who last contributed to a project and how to get in touch with them quickly. Just cutting email out of the picture in favor of social sharing translates to a productivity windfall as more enterprise information becomes accessible and searchable, rather than locked up as ‘dark matter’ in inboxes.

Via FastCompany

ON THE RADAR

Follow This: @baconbarter – Last week we highlighted a documentary that followed one man’s quest to travel the country depending solely on the kindness of Craigslist strangers. This week, we want you to take a look at this integrated campaign from Oscary Mayer and digital agency 360i called The Great American Bacon Barter. During the next few weeks actor Josh Sankey will leave his money behind and attempt to travel from NY to LA with nothing but a trailer filled with Oscar Mayer’s new Butcher Thick Cut Bacon. Mr. Sankey will attempt to barter bacon for anything he might need during the trip including: food, fuel, entertainment, and a place to spend the night.

Watch This: The Knight Foundation’s Random Acts of Culture aims to bring artists out of the performance halls and into the streets and our everyday lives. Similar to the antics of Improv Everywhere, unexpecting shoppers can suddenly find themselves in the middle of a musical. However, the difference is that Random Acts of Culture partners with local arts organizations and attempts to bring new audiences in by going to where the people are. Watch this video where the Opera Company of Philadelphia performs a song at the city’s famed Reading Terminal Market for a crowd of delighted shoppers.

Try This Site:

Lately, (more than usual) cats have been the talk of the web. Maru, perhaps the most popular feline on YouTube, has amassed an impressive 173 million views. Now he’s hit the big time and is starring in a commercial for Uniqlo. It’s not just clothing brands that are  playing off the cultural obsession with cat videos. Some animal clinics are utilizing Catroulette, a Chatroulette “nexting” model to increase interest in cat adoption. Users can skip through videos of cats to find the perfect one.

SEPTEMBER 2012 // ISSUE 38

STATE OF AMERICA

The Middle Class: Fewer, Poorer, Gloomier –  “The American dream is dead for the majority of America,” financial guru Suze Orman told Forbes last year. Orman believes the hope of someday owning a home, of working one job for life and retiring at 65 has been crushed by the financial crisis. The researchers at Pew Social & Demographic Trends couldn’t agree more as their new report calls the last 11 years “the lost decade” for the country’s middle class. “America’s middle class has endured its worst decade in modern history,” the Pew Research Center said in its report. “It has shrunk in size, fallen backward in income and wealth, and shed some of its characteristic faith in the future.” For the first time since at least World War II, middle-class families finished the first decade of the 21st century poorer and with lower incomes than they had 10 years earlier. Incomes have dropped since 2000, while wealth rose modestly early in the decade before gains were wiped out by the recession and the financial crisis. While more than half of the shrinkage in the middle class came from families that moved upscale, about two households in five that left the middle class moved below Pew’s cutoff. For the first time in at least 40 years, the total percentage of national income earned by the middle class fell behind the share earned by the upper cohort. “That the middle class always enjoys a rising standard of living is part of America’s sense of itself, and it has always been true – until now,” Paul Taylor, a Pew EVP said in an interview.

 

Via Pew Social Trends

 

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Voicemail: A Thing Of The Past – With the rise of texting, instant chat and transcription apps, more people are ditching the venerable tool that once revolutionized the telephone business. The behavioral shift is occurring in tandem with the irreversible fading of voice calls in general. In data prepared for USA TODAY, Vonage, an Internet phone company, says the number of voicemail messages left on user accounts was down 8% in July from a year ago. Checking one’s voicemail seems to be considered an even bigger chore than leaving a voice message. Retrieved voicemail fell 14% among Vonage users in the same period. “They hate the whole voicemail introduction, prompts, having to listen to them in chronological order,” says Michael Tempora, senior vice president of product management at Vonage. As with most declining technology, the exodus is led by younger, more impatient users who are quicker to embrace alternatives. Someone such as Neveen Moghazy, 33, who unlike her voice-mail-loving father, rarely leaves messages but juggles texting, chat app WhatsApp and Google Voice. “If my friends call and I’m busy, I text them asking if it’s urgent, or I just call them back later without checking voice mail,” says Moghazy. The last voice mail Moghazy left consisted of she and her husband singing Happy Birthday to a friend last month. “He texted me back, saying he’d call back later.”

 

Via USA Today 

SMART BRANDS

Left Alone By its Owner, Reddit Soars – Last Thursday, President Obama signed up for an “Ask Me Anything” (A.M.A. in geek speak) session at Reddit, a social site that is a staple of digital life for the young and connected, but less well known among grown-ups. Reddit, a social news website where users submit content, has just 20 employees but serves up more than three billion page views a month. With its basic graphics, endless links and discussions, Reddit can seem like peering into a bowl of spaghetti, but it has surpassed better-known aggregating sites like Digg to become a force on the Web. Condé Nast, the magazine company, bought Reddit back in 2006 for a reported $20 million. That kind of deal is usually a signal that a ritual sacrifice was about to begin in which a clueless old media company snaps up a hot Web property and proceeds to squeeze the life out of what it just bought. But that is not what happened. Very early on the company decided it would not be the blob that ate Reddit and for the most part, left well enough alone. Its two founders, Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian, stayed on after the sale for three years – a feat unto itself.  “Condé gave it enough rope and left the people there to their own devices. I don’t know whether it was a brilliant strategy or accidental neglect, but the founders did not leave, the community stayed intact, and the site grew beyond anybody’s expectations,” said Anil Dash, a writer and entrepreneur in digital realms. No further validation of its success is needed then having the leader of the free world stops by to answer questions from its users.

 

 Via NYTimes

BRIGHT IDEAS

The Ultimate Employee Perk: A Do-Good Sabbatical – A number of big companies, including Intel, Microsoft, and General Mills, offer paid sabbaticals for their employees to recharge. Software giant SAP offers them as well but with a unique twist: the paid sabbatical focuses on doing good and developing skills. The program allows specially selected employees to take time off from their regular work to collaborate with non-government organizations (NGOs) in emerging markets like India, Brazil, and South Africa. The program was created for “high potential employees” to develop leadership skills, connect with leaders in emerging markets, teach SAP about the needs of NGOs in these markets, generate strategic social investments for the company–and of course, support the development of the NGOs, which were selected with help from CDC. The pilot social sabbatical program, which recently ended, sent nine employees to Brazil, where they worked in teams with three NGOs–an association of garbage collectors, an organization that empowers people with disabilities, and an institution that supports artisans by exporting their products internationally. Next up: SAP is sending employees to India and South Africa in October. The company will eventually expand the program into two or three other locations, all strong emerging markets with growth potential for entrepreneurs. Judging by the program’s initial success, it will be around for awhile.

 

Via FastCompany

ON THE RADAR

Culture Observation: According to the latest Nielsen’s Mobile Insights study, two-thirds of Asian American mobile subscribers, 57% of Hispanics, and 54% of African Americans own smartphones.  Within non-Hispanic whites, just 45% of mobile subscribers own a smartphone. Non-Hispanic whites are the only US mobile subscribers who are more likely to own an old-school “feature phone” rather than a smartphone.  Nielsen Mobile Insights Study, Nielsen.com | May 7, 2012

Watch This: In the documentary Craigslist Joe, director Joseph Garner sets out on an experiment to see whether or not online communities could take care of people in real life. Can someone without a support net of family and friends find assistance from online strangers? In order to find out, Garner left all his money at home and traveled the country for 31 days with just a pre-paid cell phone, a wireless Internet card and the clothes on his back. Executive produced by Zach Galifianakis, Craigslist Joe takes a look at the idea of community and social isolation in an increasing online world. Watch the trailer here.

Try This App: If you’re worried about online privacy, you might be interested in McAfee’s newly launched Social Protection app. The product, now in free beta testing, is a browser extension available for Windows 7 machines running anything higher than Explorer 8 or Firefox 8. Unless you’re on a pre-approved list, all photos will appear fuzzy. Social Protection also blocks your Facebook photos from being downloaded, shared or captured as screenshots.  Furthermore, facial recognition software scans Facebook and alerts you if you appear in photos that have been uploaded but have not been tagged.