TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY

There are at least two sides to every story, but advertisers don’t always get to fully explore them.

It may be in part because it’s deemed too confusing; a distraction from simple narratives which are already hard enough to win an audience for. But technology continues to open new opportunities, and we’ve seen a couple of examples recently which showcase the potential.

First up, Durex have created what they reckon is the world’s first ‘dual experience’ ad. Their short film starts by inviting viewers to watch simultaneously via their Durex Explore app. It’s not much of a call to action, but if viewers do go to that effort then while the (basically boring) short film of a man delivering a package is playing, those with the app see the raunchy goings-on at the house awaiting the delivery. The cool thing is that the whole effort is designed to launch Durex’s mCommerce offering, meaning those who downloaded the app are then ready to shop. [Watch].

Honda had a slightly different approach with their effort, a trailer called The Other Side. It was made in collaboration with YouTube, and interactively runs two story lines in parallel. The first is of a family man fetching his kids from school, the second is of the same man tearing up the streets after robbing a jewellers. Users can flick between the almost perfectly synced stories just by tapping or holding the ‘R’ key – and it works well. Worth a [play].

Whether you see it as a distraction, or the chance for far deeper engagement, we suspect we’ll see more multi-narrative stories in 2015…

THE GROWING INFLUENCE OF ANIMATION

Hot off the back of the Lego film, and amid the backdrop of a rave-reviewed Paddington movie, animation is on fire just now. For brands, animation is proving not only a brilliant way to launch stories, but even to experientially continue those stories…

Over the summer Chipotle caused something of a viral sensation with their animated story of the scarecrow, pushing the narrative of big bad fast food chains and their ruinous behaviours. The viral was a launchpad for a mobile game, which pursued that same narrative. And McDonald’s have now followed suit. In an hilariously brazen evasion of Chipotle’s messaging, their animation tells the story of a whimsical cargo man called Macca, who clumsily knocks things out of his cargo plane, only to then foolishly jump out after them.  The viral invites viewers to get the app-based game, basically flappy birds in a different direction, telling them to play for points and earn free fast food! [Watch].

For John Lewis this Christmas, the animation of Monty the Penguin has proved a veritable success. But a slightly lesser known fact is that the retailer has also deployed a Kinect-driven 3D interactive booth in their flagship Oxford Circus store, inviting children to bring along their favourite toy to be scanned (a process called ‘photogrammetry’), and brought to life in animation on screen. We can only imagine that kids absolutely LOVE it.

UBER JUST MADE THE BIG TIME

uber

Uber is a bit of a darling to this Technology Bulletin, for its irreverent approach to disruption and its ‘impossible is nothing’ culture. But it’s been in the news a fair bit recently for the wrong reasons – things it’s called ‘growing pains’, like data loss and allegedly cynical terms for its drivers.

But ‘impressive’ is the best word to describe its performance. The company is singularly transforming city travel with ‘personal drivers’ effectively everywhere. It has just declared it is now six times bigger than it was six months ago, and has just been valued at a staggering $40bn. That instantly makes it one of the most valuable companies in the world; bigger than Netflix or Twitter, for example. (Those guys must be kicking themselves).

The company is claiming that in 2015 it will generate 1 million jobs in cities around the world, and it’s rumoured to be looking to pump significant millions into advertising, as it aims to rebuild as a more ‘humble’ brand.

But Uber is a company everyone should have their eye on, not just other taxi drivers. Previously we’ve featured the company for their trialling of a 20 min. delivery service. And this Christmas the company has partnered with whisky brand Johnnie Walker, to offer free cab rides home, in a campaign fronted by F1 stars.

For us the message is simple. Uber is moving to the heart of human logistics. And any brand should be considering what this might mean for them, and how they might embrace the service themselves.

SOCIAL NEWS UPDATE

It was another busy period of headlines in social media; here’s a roundup of the ones to know.

First up, Snapchat has had a busy couple of months. Hot off the back of announcing that advertising is imminent, the ephemeral social network surprised many by announcing a partnership with Square, the payments company, with its launch of SnapCash! It’s a quick and incredibly simple way for people to send cash to each other, but we’re just pleased the made the tutorial video – the partnership is worth it for this alone: [Watch].

The Creative Director of Buzzfeed gave away his 101 for creating shareable content recently, to add to the pile of ‘best practice’ out there. They are, reflect the reader’s identity, inspire an emotional reaction, to give information previously unknown, to add in humour, and finally, pursue human rights – show you have a heart. [ Read on].

Vine has added a favourite button linked to push notifications, a little nudge by its makers to get people opening the app more regularly.

Asos was declared the UK’s favourite retailer on Pinterest for the second year running, and Tumblr and Pinterest have been declared the fastest growing social networks based on active users, with 111% and 120% growth in the last six months respectively. Facebook posted just 2% growth.

The rather anti-social North Korea is at the centreof a storm regarding the hacking of Sony Pictures and the release into social media of unreleased blockbusters and personal details of staff. It’s supposedly hitting back at the belittling of Kim Jong Un by Sony. Turns out the loud bark carries a small but effective nip.

NUTRI-GRAIN THROWDOWN CHALLENGE

We saw an interesting campaign designed for Instragram this week. Although the platform has been busily introducing paid advertising, brands are still enjoying plenty of creative freedom to let their ideas do the hard work.

And that’s exactly what we’ve seen from Kellogg’s. The cereals brand has set about initiating a new viral wave which they are calling Nutri-Grain Throwdowns, exploring the well documented dynamics behind the virility of #icebucketchallenge and #necknominate. It requires users to download the Nutri-Grain app, select a challenge, and film them or their friends performing the challenge before setting new ones to other friends.

Each day the most-liked challenge wins prizes, and a Go-Pro camera goes to the most creative entry. We’ve been interested by studies recently which show statistically how much more likely campaigns are to be shared when they have some socially worthy cause behind them – and while we suspect this effort by Kellogg’s won’t therefore hit the big time, it’ll be interesting to see how it performs. [Watch].

THE APP THAT KNOWS WHAT YOU WANT

Last issue we made the point that personalisation is at the beginning of a long journey, and is nowhere near its full potential yet. The launch of a new app this week serves as a decent illustration of the direction we are expecting to go, in the very near future.

Called Next Glass, the app is simply designed to help confused Wine and Beer drinkers who are spoiled for choice when walking down long shopping aisles, but that don’t have a clue what they might actually like. It tackles this common problem by creating a taste profile for its users based on their preferences, and cross referencing this against its profile of 23,000 bottles of wine and beers, considering each bottle’s ‘unique DNA’ – things like its taste qualities, and texture. The app sets about its work when the user points their phone at the label of any bottle, scanning it to reveal a ‘scientific’ taste-match score out of 100. [Watch].

The app also provides other data about the drink, such as sugar content, calories and alcohol content. And it’s at this point, we can open up to the idea of a future where data like this is profiled and made to fit to individual’s diets. Not only then are drinks being matched to individuals based on their taste, but potentially also to dietary compatibility, aligned to goals such as weight loss or medicinal requirements. The app also has a social element to it, meaning friends can access other friends’ taste preferences.

But the reason the app is a pointer to the future of personalisation, is the notion that perhaps anything in the world can be profiled to fit this scientific personal preference paradigm, from cars to holidays to furniture choice. If we travel into the future and see our world when risk from trying anything new is mitigated, and each purchase is assisted with a deeply layered compatibility score, Amazon product recommendations start to look incredibly primitive. That’s how we know things have only just begun.

THE TECH KIT THAT’LL CHANGE THE WORLD

There’s been some seriously cool tech released in recent months. From the novel to the groundshaking, it’s all been happening. Some things simply to make our day-to-day lives a little easier, or lazier, depending on your outlook. Who can resist the lure of the WiFi Kettle? Only owners of the Teasmade would be able to look down on you.

And we were impressed at the technology contained in Tellspec for example, a new handheld device that might make you think you fell asleep and woke up in a science fiction movie. The device is able to detect and analyse the chemical composition of food items in real time, with a simple scan – everything from allergens, chemicals, nutrients, calories, to the ingredient list. It hopes to build the largest food database in the world, and it’s another component to the mapping of our health data. Not bad.

But perhaps it’s not even a patch on what else is afoot.

This week a monumental moment passed in the UK, with little more than a whimper in the headlines. It was the launch of the Google-backed genetics company 23andMe here in the UK, and their genome analysis product.

We’ve been watching this company for some time; we first spoke about them at the start of 2012 in a climate of excitement that previously invisible data surrounding us started to be observed and recorded with vengeance. 23andMe is a company that for a £125 kit will take a saliva sample and within a couple of weeks, report back to users their genetic secrets, including their heritage, revealing potential vulnerabilities in their DNA and to all intents and purposes, informing people about their health.

The few headlines the kit has made largely concerned doubts over the test’s helpfulness, worrying that consumers should be aware of the test’s accuracy levels, or that it may cause people to panic about vulnerabilities that will never manifest – or worse, make them feel complacent about illnesses they need to have examined.

Some vox-popped consumers claimed that they’d rather live life in ignorance of their potential flaws, others imagined how useful it’d be to know to look out for symptoms of things they knew were potentially a problem, for them and their kids.

For 23andMe, beyond arming people with their own data, the company is most excited about its ‘partnerships’ with pharmaceutical companies and academic groups. The hope is to hugely disrupt what it describes as an antiquated medical research environment. The company wants to dramatically accelerate the pace of research by having a single rich database of anonymised DNA and illness information to become a fast, one-stop shop for researchers armed with their hypotheses.

And that would be truly transformational.

23andMe is not just a novelty kit to find out your ancestry. It’s potentially the start of the most radical, revolutionary approach to medical research ever undertaken. Crowd-sourced. Just take a look at how the ‘people-powered’ research is taking on Parkinson’s already… [Watch].

AND FINALLY….

We start And Finally with perhaps the most reassuring blunder of all time. The CFO of Twitterforgot the difference between a Tweet and a Direct Message on the platform and accidentally revealed his plan to buy another company. Wounded.

Stephen Hawking joined the likes of Elon Musk and the writers of 2001 to declare that artificial intelligence will spell the end of humanity.

Speaking of which, Gangnam Style broke YouTube last week.

The most shared video of the month was a viral titled, ‘people being awesome’. It shows a whole bunch of people being awesome to animals, so we thought to share it too, because it’s quite affirming. [Watch].

There was the news that Smart Glasses, of which Google Glass is the ‘major player’, will only be shipping 10 million units per year by 2017, well below the hoped and expected projections we’d seen previously. Blame has been placed at poor consumer use cases. Turns out walking along jolting your head about while announcing you’re taking pictures of others, is a bit niche.

Google support in developing an anti-tremor spoon, aimed at cancelling out the effects of diseases like Parkinson’s, is not to be sniffed at though. [Watch].

Elsewhere, what is it with Canadian ad agencies at the moment? The latest satirical viral release points fun at vending machines, shocking users on the street by showcasing their completely normalfunctionality. Kinda lol, but can someone tell them to do some work? [Watch].

One (coincidentally) Canadian project on Kickstarter was suspended half way through fundraising, probably because it’s pretty out there. Blood Sport revolves around the idea that shoot ‘em up gamers are hooked up to blood bags and each time they take a hit in the game, they lose real blood. [Watch].

And finally, Christmas is of course a time when porn stars come together to create music. That is to say, this year, Television X, Britain’s most popular porn channel, have decided to release a Christmas single ‘Coming for Christmas’. Not sure if it’s safe for work, didn’t make it all the way to the end. [Watch].

No we can’t finish like that. Let’s instead go for, #Love was the most used Instagram hashtag in 2014. That’s the spirit.

Merry Christmas, everyone X

ELLO ELLO

Last issue we linked you up with invites to Ello, an interesting new platform hoping to disrupt the world of social media. In the time since, it’s started getting some real heat. Such has been its explosion in popularity over the last month, it’s needed to seek an extra $5.5m in funding to cope with the demand.

elloOne of the reasons for its spike in popularity is that the platform is vehemently anti-advertising. Critics and the tech elite have jumped on the company’s claims that, ‘Ello exists for your benefit… it will never show ads or sell user data’, saying ‘good luck’ when angry investors come knocking – but Ello has promptly fought back, and quite emphatically too: it’s just reassigned itself a PBC, a Public Benefit Corporation. That’s a new type of corporation with a responsibility to transparency and creating a material positive impact on society. The declaration came amidst another flurry of PR from Ello, showing signed documentation from all founders swearing that it will never advertise or sell user data – and that even if it was eventually bought, its new owners would be subject to the same restrictions.

It’s not the first major startup to shun advertising. WhatsApp’s founders poured their scorn over ads and insisted part of their acquisition by Facebook held that the platform would not advertise (not that it wouldn’t use the data, though). Those sentiments aside, the arrival of Ello does point to the consumer mood and appetite for transparency – and steps beyond old-style corporate social responsibility, towards active social benefit. One to watch.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL

amazonWe have not yet scratched the surface of what is to come from data and personalisation. In fact arguably few if any retailers are fully exploiting the data they have at their disposal – everything from understanding preferred shopping experiences, environments and the service we expect, to localising and personalising the shopping experience itself.

Two pieces of new research this month indicated just how important personalisation is. The first research suggested that mobile web brand loyalty is dead, with 91% of customers having no qualms turning to competitors to get what they want, when they want it. The second piece of research suggested that while 34% of retailers believe that brand reputation is the most important consideration when choosing a retailer, a massive 85% of consumers suggested that brand reputation isn’t important. That’s some disparity. But importantly, 31% of consumers think that personalised experiences make them more likely to make purchases. In simple terms, personalisation holds a key to loyalty.

It was no surprise when Amazon announced its first physical store this month, it’s been coming for some time. Some 82% of consumers regard Amazon as the kings of personalisation, so there is incredible focus on how Amazon will carry its shopping experience into the offline world. It’s said that Amazon has more data than the Pentagon. Can it finally make the High Street personal?

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