Monthly Archives: November 2012

NOVEMBER 2012 // ISSUE 48

STATE OF AMERICA

Occupy 2.0  – Grungy 20-somethings full of scorn for America’s financial system but unable to articulate a concrete vision for reform — that’s the image most people associate with Occupy Wall Street, a series of anti-Establishment demonstrations launched around the globe in 2011. But now in 2012, less than a year after the last protester was removed from New York City’s Zuccotti Park, the movement has re-emerged as a series of laser-focused advocacy groups that are trying to effect change in a variety of sectors. Led in part by former Wall Streeters, these groups might still promote radical ideas (Occupy Bank wants to overhaul the entire U.S. banking system), but their approach to change is incremental, and this time around they’re playing by the rules. For example, instead of complaining about predatory lending, Strike Debt is raising cash to buy medical debt, then forgive it. “It’s a strategic initiative,” says movement organizer Amin Husain. “We’re affecting people’s lives in a positive way but also exposing the nature of the system.” Perhaps the best evidence that Occupy’s brand of direct democracy can offer both advocacy and efficiency is Occupy Sandy, their most recent grassroots movement which funneled hundreds of volunteers and crucial supplies to storm-hit New York City neighborhoods almost as fast as FEMA.

Via Rolling Jubilee

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

Growing Interest In “Real” Products – Your sweater might be genuine wool but can you trace its fibers back to the very sheep from which it was shorn? This is the granular level of “realness” consumers now increasingly seek. There’s evidence all around us — whether it’s watching someone gush over the sleek design of a new phone and then seek out the perfect hand-carved, petrified-jungle-wood case to protect it, or the proliferation of farmers markets in big cities — people are looking for, and need, realness. The growth of urban centers, the decreased level of personal communication because of technology, and the rise of health scares from mass-produced food are a few of the many contributing factors driving the desire for “real”. There is a powerful urge to get in touch with what people believe is a real and more authentic world, and it’s leading us to a place where signs of realness take on greater value.

Via Fast Company

SMART BRANDS

The Disruption Economy – The upending of traditional business models is spreading like wildfire through the economy, particularly in services that can be easily socialized such as the hotel business (Airbnb), the taxi industry (Uber) and the education market (Coursera). It’s important to note that the social aspect of these services is crucial to their success. For Airbnb the social element isn’t just a nice addition, it’s a key part of how it functions and why the barriers to entry and transaction costs are lowered as a result. For a former user, if they had not had the ability to see a homeowner was connected to a Facebook friend of theirs, they might never have used Airbnb (and they might never have accepted them as a renter). As New York venture investor Chris Dixon described in a recent blog post that startups such as Airbnb and Uber are “regulatory hacks” in the sense that they are designed to do an end-run around existing industry regulations in much the same way the early disruption in telecom was driven by startups that played fast and loose with the rules, eventually forcing regulatory change and becoming the norm. The list of these kinds of companies is only continuing to grow: Kickstarter and Indiegogo have not only helped entrepreneurs raise millions of dollars outside the traditional financing industry, they have also helped trigger changes to federal legislation around small business funding. Today’s regulatory hack is tomorrow’s mainstream industry.

 

Via Business Week

BRIGHT IDEAS

Crowdfunding A Cure – On the popular site Kickstarter, tens of thousands of users have tapped friends, family and strangers to help finance everything from comic books to movies to a dream-enhancing sleep mask. Now, crowdfunding is even helping the sick to pay their medical bills. With U.S. health care costs at least $8,000 per capita, a group of new Web platforms are offering people an opportunity to ask the public for help. Of course families have long held informal fundraisers for such causes, but now creating pages on crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe (where medical asks have trumped education and travel to become the biggest travel draw) and GiveForward allows patients and their relatives to raise a larger amount of money with the help of friends who spread the word via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail. What starts as a family affair can eventually reach people all over the world.

Via GoFundMe.com

ON THE RADAR

Culture Observation: This year GIF bested YOLO (You Only Live Once) as Oxford American Dictionary’s official 2012 word of the year. Originally, it was an acronym used as a noun  referring to an outdated “graphics interchange format.”  2012 saw GIF gain traction as a verb, and its new meaning is as follows:

GIF (verb) – to create a GIF file, usually of an image or video sequence relating to an event

 

View This Site: Sharp Suits: A Creative Catharsis is an Irish art exhibit created by ad creatives who chose to turn frustrating client feedback into hilarious works of art. The exhibit includes interpretations of bizarre client requests such as “Can we make the pig sexier?” and “Can the snow look a little warmer?” While posters of the artwork are no longer on sale, past proceeds have been donated to the Temple Street Children’s Hospital in Dublin. View the gallery here

Watch This: Wanting to increase girls’ interest in the male-dominated field of engineering, Stanford engineering student Debbie Sterling came up with the idea of GoldieBlox – an engineering toy designed to encourage young girls’ interest in the field. GoldieBlox differs from other building toys on the market because it comes with a storytelling component which studies have shown is a big draw for young girls. Watch Sterling explain the concept of GoldieBlox in this video that has inspired enough crowdfunding to turn Sterling’s idea into reality.

 

 

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NOVEMBER 2012 // HOLIDAY EDITION // ISSUE 47

STATE OF AMERICA

Rise Of Self-Gifting In A Me-Centric Society – We’ve all heard that it is better to give than receive. During the holiday shopping period, there’s a new twist to this old adage: the rise of “self-gifting”. Many consumers are clearly big fans of the idea of giving – to themselves. The “self-gifting” trend, which has been gaining in popularity over the years, will reach all-time highs this year. According to the National Retail Federation, the average shopper who is honest enough to admit they plan to spend on themselves over the holidays will drop $237 on “self-gifts.” That’s a 27% jump in five years. Younger consumers are especially game to embrace the idea that the season of giving is the perfect time for self-gifting. “It looks like young adults have the ‘one for you two for me’ mentality about the holiday season this year, which is surprising given that this is also the age group that typically doesn’t have the income or ability to splurge,” said Pam Goodfellow, consumer insights director for BIGinsight. Millennials are not more selfish than other generations though. But because they grew up at a time when society placed a stronger emphasis on caring about oneself, self-gifting seems more natural to them, without the negative connotations felt by older generations.

Via TIME

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

The First Multi-Screen Holiday Shopping Season – Multi-screen behavior has pervaded many aspects of consumers’ lives, and that’s certainly true when it comes to shopping. Google commissioned Ipsos MediaCT to find out how people plan to get their holiday gift-giving done this year and found that while just over half will research online and buy in store, a growing number plan to visit stores first and then look for bargains on the item online. Most shoppers also plan to switch devices while researching, relying on links, search and shopping carts to pick things back up. 4 in 5 shoppers will use devices simultaneously to help with shopping. 85% will shop for a gift by starting on one device and finishing on another during the shopping process. The most popular combinations being a computer with smartphone (55%) and a computer with tablet (20%).

Via AdWeek 

SMART BRANDS

Target & Neiman Marcus’ Holiday Collaboration Wins With Story Within A Story Campaign – Anyone who watched Sunday’s mid-season finale of “Revenge” got a heavy dose of Target and Neiman Marcus marketing as the retailers promoted their limited-edition holiday collection. Target and Neiman Marcus were the sole sponsors for the telecast, running five long-form commercials that totaled roughly 10 minutes of airtime during the hour long episode. The spots featured the cast of the popular ABC drama in a “story within a story” that was modeled after the show itself. The unique partnership even enlisted “Revenge” writers and set designers to ensure the ads would appeal to the show’s fans.

Via Brandchannel.com

BRIGHT IDEAS

Block Friday – New York based sustainable goods manufacturer and retailer Holstee took a novel approach to the Thanksgiving sales period last year. On Black Friday (the day after Thanksgiving), US retailers traditionally slash prices to mark the beginning of the Christmas shopping period, but Holstee took the drastic step of shutting down its website temporarily. For Holstee, Black Friday typically accounts for 10-15% of their annual revenue, but they began realizing the hustle around driving consumerism on that day was exactly the opposite of the mission they’d set out to achieve. As a reaction, Holstee shut down their online store for the day, blocking it with a note kindly reminding their customers of the real purpose of the holidays. Visitors saw a black curtain over the homepage and a note: “We are shutting down the shop to refocus on what is important to us, and it turns out that it cannot be bought at an Early Bird Special. We hope you will join us. : )” Thus, the concept of #BlockFriday was born. This year, Holstee, in partnership with a large number of other retailers, is transforming that single act into an entire movement. What are you blocking off Friday to do this holiday season?

Via Holstee.com
ON THE RADAR

Try This Snack: Retailers like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts have come out with seasonal items each year, and this month Pringles made its foray into the growing holiday snack market with the debut of the following limited edition Pringles holiday flavors: Pumpkin Pie Spice, White Chocolate Peppermint and Cinnamon & Sugar. Initial consumer reactions are mixed, but if novelty is a strong enough selling point, you’ll be able to try these flavors yourself at your local Walmart.

Holiday Observation: “It’s estimated that 2 billion apps will be downloaded during the week of Dec. 25 – Dec. 31.”

FastCompany | Nov. 12, 2012
Watch This: The people who brought you Rebecca Black’s “Friday” have deemed it necessary to present to the world another work of art in a song titled, “It’s Thanksgiving.” This song is sung by teen Nicole Westbrook, includes singing into a turkey leg as if it were a microphone, and features a montage as well as a chorus of all major holidays leading up to the “give’em thanks ya’ll” holiday. Happy Thanksgiving!

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NOVEMBER 2012 // ISSUE 46

STATE OF AMERICA

The Death Of Online Anonymity  – Ten years ago people were used to having many different personas – at work, at home, with their friends. During this time fewer people used the internet and anonymity was the norm. Now that most people have an online identity on Facebook or the like, anonymity is regarded with suspicion and associated with hackers, abusive commentators and scammers. Aleks Krotoski, author of the forthcoming book Untangling the Web: What the Internet is Doing to You, believes we are entering a new phase of the internet age. “The rise of Facebook and Google ushered in an enormous number of people who hadn’t previously used the web, and this has seen a shift in attitudes towards anonymity.  People themselves are becoming less and less inclined to be anonymous online because it is now associated with bad behavior.”

Via The Guardian 

BRAVE NEW CONSUMER

A Tale Of A Motivated Billy Idol Fan –

In another example of an everyday individual making the impossible happen with some ingenuity and a lot of passion, Michael Henrichsen persuaded Billy Idol to play at his birthday party. Over the span of two years, and with the help of some of his friends, Michael created stunt after stunt to capture the attention of the British rocker. He built the

website www.playmybirthdaybillyidol.com to post all the stunts he created which range from having his friends hold banners over highways to collecting endorsements from celebrities like comedian Kevin Nealon, Seattle Mariner Jay Buhner and porn star Ron Jeremy. He put together an ’80s cover band called Nite Wave that began playing a series of charity concerts dubbed “Billy Idol Aid” and raised more than $10,000 for the American Red Cross and Northwest Harvest. When Billy Idol’s people found out about it he maintained a relationship with them until the impossible happened. In August, Idol himself sent Michael a message. “The people of the world have spoken!” Idol thundered. “The dream will become reality…” Finally,  Michael’s dreams came true this October and it’s all thanks to his creativity, determination and the internet.

Via Huffington Post

SMART BRANDS

Toshiba and Intel’s Social Film: The Beauty Inside – Intel and Toshiba have gained the attention of Facebookers by teaming up on a film project with a twist:

giving multiple people a chance to play the leading role. The Beauty Inside is a film series broadcast on Facebook in six parts. The movie tells the romantic tale of Alex (Topher Grace), who has set his eyes on a girl (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), but he has a major problem – every morning he wakes up as a different person. This is where the public was invited to get involved as one of the many incarnations of the main character. Budding actors – both female and male – could audition for the role of Alex through an online casting call. Those who tried out were required to record themselves reading an audition script via an app provided on Facebook. 

Via YouTube

*Special thanks to USA Network’s Suzanne McGee for bringing this story to our attention

BRIGHT IDEAS

Invest In Someone, Literally – Upstart, a new startup by a former Googler, is aimed at funding people instead of companies.  Upstart lets graduates connect with a minimum of five financial backers who act as investors in the “upstart.” They provide funds and sometimes mentorship as the participant pursues his or her goal – be it writing a novel or starting a tech firm – in return for a variable share of the next decade’s worth of annual income. Upstart explains, “It’s an investment in you, not your idea or your business” – instead of big employers giving promising grads their professional head start, today literally anyone can do so.

Via Upstart

ON THE RADAR

Try This Platform:

Google+ has partnered with the NFL in the first partnership to fully integrate Google+ Hangouts onto a separate platform. If you’re in a fantasy league set up through the NFL.com/fantasy page, everyone in your league will be able to  video chat by simply clicking the Hangout button. This means you can look at your friends’ reactions as you draft each player and watch them gloat during big plays throughout the season. Since the standard fantasy league has about a dozen players, Google has increased the number of Hangout participants from 10 to 12 on the NFL.com platform.

Try This App: The MoviePass app is being described as Netflix for in-theater movies. For a monthly fee starting at $29.99 users are allowed to see unlimited movies at local theaters nationwide. Membership includes a smartphone app, membership card, discounts at concession stands, and access to advance screenings and events. Watching a movie at a theater is as simple as checking into the theater on your phone and getting your ticket from the kiosk.

Read This: “The Silent History” is a new kind of e-book that  advances the way digital novels take advantage of smartphone technology.  For $8.99 readers can subscribe to the entire story which centers on a near-future dystopia. Everyday new content is automatically downloaded in bursts short enough to be read in 15 minutes. The most striking innovation is the use of GPS to unlock additional narratives known as Field Reports. Field Reports, contributed by other writers, appear as pins on a zoomable worldwide map inside the app, and the only way to read them is to visit the actual location. Once there, you will find yourself immersed in the details of the very location you are reading about

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