Recognising the value that consumers can have in product design & creation has been a real boon for some brands. In some cases brands are so happy to invite this input, they’ve been prepared to pay for it. Lego’s CUUSOO platform is a famous example, where fans submit product ideas and are entitled to 1% of profits should their design make it to production.

And most recently, we liked what we saw from Dominos in Australia, who has embarked upon a project called Pizza Mogul. With a simple microsite dedicated to the task of ‘create, share and earn’, the fast food chain is asking consumers to get stuck in and design the ultimate pizzas, for general sale. And the reward for doing so is not to be sniffed at; Dominos is promising to remunerate anywhere between 25c and AUS$4.50 per pizza sold. Not bad at all… [Watch].

Naturally it’s a brilliant way to encourage participation with a brand, but that’s not all. One particularly clever dynamic of Dominos’ project is that to a large extent, it defers responsibilities for design & creation. It effectively allows Dominos to be experimental with strange combinations of ingredients, however indulgent or unhealthy, under the veil of having been made by the consumer, then demanded by the consumer. And needless to add, if a customer has the chance to make a buck out of their creation, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll become a solid advocate…



What happens if a retailer tries to recreate the nuances of online shopping in a traditional, physical store? Is it possible to recreate features which have contributed so much to e-commerce, such as cookies, personalisation, or ‘what others bought’? It’s what online beauty retailer Birchbox asked, and then set about trying to answer.

Birchbox’s first steps into physical retail are being firmly driven by their online data. They’re calling this, intelligent retail. The store layout mirrors website searching: products are organised by ‘type’ rather than brand, reflecting the behaviour of online shoppers who apparently use terms like “blush” – rather than seeking out a brand’s portfolio as a typical store tends to assume.

And where traditional beauty stores dedicate around 10-20% of retail space to ‘best sellers’, Birchback offer a massive 80%. This is designed to reflect the importance of customer ratings & curator recommended products in online retail.

Elsewhere, iPads, so frequently a gratuitous afterthought in physical retail, will offer the personalisation available online by suggesting in-store items that suit a person’s hair texture, skin type, or personal style. It ensures each shopper is able to receive a unique retail experience. And to be sure of the value the iPads bring, Birchbox has built in ‘real-life’ cookies. In-store cameras equipped with heat sensors will track customers’ movements, providing insight into consumer behaviour and movement on purchase journeys.

It’s a fascinating and refreshing experiment, and if successful, will be an interesting case study for physical retail. From content to organisation, to personalisation, Birchbox will be hoping that the elements contributing to its ecommerce success will translate offline.


SoLoMo, often with the odd ‘co’ thrown in for good measure, is the buzzword dream of multichannel advertisers. It’s the everywhere advertising strategy many brands are working hard to implement.

Heineken is no different, as demonstrated by its new ‘intelligent recommendation service’ which encourages boozers to search out and follow ‘the next big thing’ and create a sense of adventure for their night. Users tweet @wherenext and wait for Heineken to respond with real time information about cool spots for them to hit next. They’re doing this by detecting geo-tagged locations, and analysing tweets, Instagram photos & Foursquare check-ins, all in a bid to create the ultimate pub crawl. And to have their own influence on affairs, every hour Heineken is tweeting a nearby recommendation for the adventure, ensuring that the night keeps on moving and users don’t miss out. [Watch].

Heineken is hoping its digital compass can tap into the FOMO culture, and they will no doubt be seeking to influence where drinkers go, to make sure their brew is on tap. Whether Heineken can build and sustain credibility to give these suggestions will be interesting to watch; at present the service is available in just a few US cities. But it’s an interesting first step – and with location based comms winning more attention than ever, we expect to see plenty more innovation like this.


walmartWhen a company with the vast resources of Walmart takes a step in a new direction, we’re always inclined to take notice.

For years we’ve seen Walmart become a master in the art of driving cost out of distribution. Now, the retailer has signalled its intention to drive waste out of advertising & media, with a marketing strategy that sees them enter the business of media buying.

Walmart is touting its new Walmart Exchange (WMX) as a digital targeting, buying and optimisation platform. The platform gives the retailing giant the capability to target the right customer, at the right time, with the right ad, all through search and display.

WMX uses Walmart’s treasure chest of data from, in-store sales, social-media platforms and third-party data, and enables the company to go out and buy media on behalf of the brands it stocks. While WMX today applies to display and search, the goal is to apply it to other areas, such as e-mail and mobile in the near future. In essence, Walmart is attempting to bypass some of the traditional advertising relationships that suppliers have in place. The result is that Walmart will be able to place the most efficient media for its suppliers and generate revenue across the purchasing cycle, from search, to in-store and online point of purchase.

Some doubts remain as to whether suppliers will give up their digital marketing planning, but the sheer size and scope of Walmart gives them a compelling, potentially disruptive proposition…


We saw a couple of innovative uses of Instagram this week, which we thought worthy of sharing.

First up, IKEA, hot on the heels of putting an entire catalogue online through crowd-sourced social media, has turned its attention towards building something that looks and behaves like a website – but on Instagram itself. The Russia-based campaign cleverly uses tags in the photos to act like web links, revealing more product instagrams, and their details. Users can also upload their own tagged pics of items they’ve bought, to help build the website. It’s got over 20k followers already, and we think the launch vid is worth a [watch].

And elsewhere we’ve been impressed with a project by Artistically Challenged; a group of actors and their studio team who have embarked upon making the first Instagram TV series. Using the app’s 15s video feature, the group is taking advantage of the surprising amount of narrative that can be conveyed in such a short time, and their serialised show is fully entertaining, even quite gripping. It’s something storytelling brands will be very interested by. We recommend a [Watch].

Instragram remains hugely attractive as a platform for brands, especially because of its full organic reach. There’ll be plenty more innovation to come.



This week saw two of the big players in social media take significant steps in their ecommerce strategies, by testing ‘buy now’ buttons on their sites.

For Twitter, it seems that shopping within your timeline isn’t far off. Any “Buy Now” facilities appearing on tweets to date have in fact been dead links, but shoppable tweets are now imminent. A couple of weeks back wementioned Twitter’s much-desired new e-commerce models which reflect, “the kind of commerce that wasn’t available previously; the kind of commerce that only makes sense now in the context of what I’m doing right now – what I’m talking about now and what I’m seeing right now.” Over to brands, then, to maximise that potential.

Not to be outdone, Facebook began pilotingtheir very own ‘buy now’ widget, enabling users to purchase goods through the site. It’s the latest attempt from Facebook to crack ecommerce, but will again rely on brands to take the initiative.

In each case, adding purchasing functionalities to timelines is an interesting move. In a sense, the facility is very useful – but as Twitter know, the nature of any purchases made through the platforms need to be as spontaneous in nature and positioning as chewing gum is at the counter of a shop. Otherwise, users tend to want to research the average online purchase.

With that in mind, perhaps e-commerce won’t ever be the primary driver of revenues for Facebook or Twitter. But the pair undoubtedly have a role to play in online shopping – and we’re looking forward playing with the idea for brands.


On to a few cool new things happening on mobile.

First, we were interested by Manything. It’s a new monitoring system that promises that Orwellian surveillance we’ve all been waiting for. It’s a smartphone-based monitoring system that uses motion detection to alert its users to events happening remotely. Movement triggers the camera into filming, simultaneously alerting the user. The user can then livestream, or access the cloud storage to watch old material whenever they wish. Manything has been developed principally for home & business security, which they reckon can be achieved in a more intelligent fashion, at a fraction of the cost. [Watch].

Elsewhere, a new media service has been launched for mobile ads. Adtile wants to advance mobile ads from being a boring banner into a more engaging and immersive communication, using the phone’s accelerometer. They want to have consumers shaking their phones for milkshakes, drawing hearts in the air to make a donation, or pointing their phone in the right direction to get coffee. Will consumers be interested? [Watch].

Lastly, another app for groups of friends. McDonald’s & Coca-Cola have come together in the latest attempt to try and battle technology’s potentially negative impact on young people who are principally engaging through smartphones, rather than face-to-face. The new app, BFF Timeout, is aimed at getting groups of mates together who in each others’ presence, simultaneously press ‘timeout’ on their app before they start hanging out. And to sweeten the deal, there will be group prizes… [Watch].


Finally, to the usual round up of weird, wonderful and WTFs…

First up, we’re not entirely sure why, but a new social platform is launching called Emojli. (If we’re all talking in ‘Emojli’ within the next year, egg on our face). This new platform operates only in emoticons. That is quite literally the only language on the site. Even usernames are just combinations of emoticons… [Watch]

Next, two auto makers have been battling it out for viral glory. BMW have gone for an incredible-seeming aircraft-carrier-racetrack-bonanza, and it’s hit up the 3m mark in views already. [Watch]. Hyundai on the other hand, have gone for a 3 minute feature viral on cars driving along in convey, with no drivers. Impressively, it’s conjured up some 6m views. Without an Enya soundtrack… [Watch].

Boeing have patented swing seats on aeroplanes. And Amazon, have got FAA permission for their viral-famous drone delivery system. Turns out they were serious…

A new service for pets has launched. Tails.comoffers up the potential to customise pet food based on what is best for individual animals. Animals owners are famed for genuine love of their pets, and this could be an irresistible challenger to the market. It reminded us of the mantra, there is literally no industry safe from a digital revolution.

Another new social platform launched down in Brazil, called WeechOne. It’s designed to allow people to tap up their communities to get answers to their questions quickly – if Facebook, Twitter, Quora or Jelly just aren’t doing that well enough for you.

DELL launched a facetious Selfie Injuries awareness viral, while Oreo tried their luck with the poetic story of the mini-mart mini Oreo. It’s quite a cute – [watch].

We liked an interactive hand/ball tech build concept which is actually tougher to explain than to simply encourage you to [watch] – we reckon it’s got potential for a brand to work with.

And Last up, Aldi made it to the number onespot in the UK’s top brands, according to YouGov’s buzz monitor.  The brand appears to be winning shoppers from across the spectrum, causing queues at the checkouts. Here’s what one ‘customer’, ‘Len’ thinks of it all. [Read].


In industries with congested marketing environments, it can sometimes take some extraordinary thinking to deliver messages that cut through oceans of noise. In their latest work, that’s just what Optus and M&C Saatchi have done, down in Australia.

Clever Buoy is a simple yet ingenious new R&D technology that’s been developed to protect beach-loving humans from sharks, and in turn, protect sharks from humans. The Clever Buoy is equipped with sonar technology that can accurately detect sharks’ unique sonar signatures, and then use Optus’ technology and satellites to warn lifeguards and others on shore if Sharks are swimming in the area. It’s an exciting breakthrough that could make sharing the water with the infamous creatures a much more palatable notion across the shores of Australia and to shark hotspots the world over. Take a tour of the microsite, and [watch].

With sharks ever-capable of tapping into the popular conscious, it’s an initiative that retains considerable consumer power, positioning Optus as a brand full of innovation and genuine purpose. And ultimately of course, even the lofty claim of helping to save lives…


haircvtWe’re always intrigued when we see an industry that’s largely escaped a digital makeover, finally have its day. Now is the turn of hairdressing. It’s an industry worth £4bn in the UK alone, and one that proved highly resilient to recession. It’d take a lot for us not to care about our hair, it seems.

And on that basis, it’s strange that something which matters this much to us, is something we go about in quite a peculiar way – not to mention in the same way we did 50 years ago. For one reason or another, we pick a hairdresser with very little understanding of the marketplace, and pretty much hope for the best.

Not, perhaps, for much longer. Enter a new platform that is seeking to give things a bit of a shake-up: HAIRCVT. Londoners will no longer be searching for haircut inspiration on Google images, or awkwardly pulling a magazine cutting of Beckham’s new hairdid from their wallets. Instead, they’ll be able to browse thousands of hairstyles, and the exact hairdresser responsible from salons across the capital. Users can refine to see styles that would work for their own unique hair whether they’re curly, blonde, afro, fine; want a bob, undercut or dip dye; and whether they anywhere from Chelsea to E2. HAIRCVT already has most of the top salons on board, everyone from top names such as John Frieda to the slick operations like Ena.

And it’s an interesting model from a business point of view. It’ll be one of the first platforms that truly celebrates the portfolio work of individual hairdressers, properly putting the staff of salons – the talent – at front and centre. The more you think about it, the more crazy it seems we ever did it any other way. [CHECK IT OUT].


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