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Philips Activa MP3 player with TempoMusic matches music to workout pace
January 6, 2010, 9:20 pm
Filed under: Technology | Tags: , ,

So this is pretty awesome–Philips is debuting a new “motivational” mp3 player called Activa, which uses its prorietary TempoMusic software to analyze your music library and serve up songs of just the right tempo based on your speed at any given point in your workout as clocked by an internal accelerometer (it does a whole bunch of other motivational things too, but that’s less interesting, I think). That’s pretty amazing–and a cool, utilitarian innovation. I just wish it could go the other way too, so you could specify a pace for it to play so you could keep pace to your music and not just the other way around. (Maybe then I wouldn’t have to trial-and-error stock my 5 mph playlist for those long outdoor runs…)

Although this seems more like a fitness gadget than a music gadget, I’m curious to see where this innovation goes from here. Apple streamlined and simplified mp3 player design to a point where no one’s really been able to improve on it (freed it from its Michelangelan block of marble, if you will), but we haven’t really seen anyone make them do something really cool since. (No, videos don’t count. I don’t like watching a 3 inch screen. Do you?) Apple and Nike had Nike Plus, of course, but this responsive music playback is something really interesting and I’m excited to see where this interactive smart music analysis technology leads.


Here are some delightful things

Kindle Spot Still

I feel like I’m giving the impression that I just dump on everything in my path, then step off the path for a moment to dump on those things too. But that’s not really the case. I like things. I like a lot of things! Here are some things that are delightful. Not necessarily particularly innovative or challenging or hyperclever, but just adorable. A delight!

The Kindle holiday spot (doing that whole trendy lying-down stop motion  thing) that looked like Target & Apple’s adbaby:

Those object-face ads by American Express. The service itself seems a bit dubious, but omg purse faces!

All of the Reese’s devlishly snarky ads (I know they’ve been on for a while; that does not keep them off the yeslist.):

Dell tweets its way to $6.5 million
December 10, 2009, 10:00 am
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , ,

Dell on Twitter

Dell began using Twitter as a promotions engine two years ago, with a mind to use the social networking aspects of this new channel to draw in new audiences. Now they’re reporting that their Twitter strategy has netted them more than $6.5 million in orders for PCs, accessories, and software from direct customer interactions on Twitter. While this represents a mere drop in the bucket that is Dell’s $61.1 billion annual sales, Twitter presents a key way to interact directly with audiences, and Dell is keen to leverage it.

With 1.5 million followers in 12 countries (Dell has seen a 23% increase in followers in the last three months alone), Dell’s Twitter presence behaves as a deal alert displaying promotional messaging, similar to widgets such as Southwest’s Ding! Application, but with very few costs associated, even with increases in scale and scope—just the man-hours to enter tweets. It’s worth noting that a medium like Twitter is allows brands to provide narrowly-targeted, relevant, and useful information rather than to interrupt and annoy, since it is totally opt-in from the audience side and allows the audience to self-identify the type of messaging they wish to receive from among Dell’s 35 distinct Twitter channels.

EA presents 5-track interactive banner Grand Prix
December 9, 2009, 6:40 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , , ,

EA Need For Speed Banner

Interactive and rich media banners that offer value to the user can be a great way to engage with audiences, as demonstrated by NRG3’s campaign for Electronic Arts and their Need For Speed: SHIFT game.

In the campaign, interactive banners are positioned on five top gaming and racing websites: Auto Week, Inside Gamer, Gamer, Formule 1, Sport Week. Through the banner they are viewing, players can race against others viewing the banner from the other sites. After each race, the players are directed to race the track on the next site, with the five tracks on the five separate sites comprising a Grand Prix. Players can gain badges for certain maneuvers, and their scores and race finishes are collected and stored on the central leaderboard, housed on the campaign’s website. Top-ranking racers win prizes from a copy of the game to an Xbox gaming system, with the top driver receiving the grand prize: “a custom race chair, an XBOX 360 Elite, the game Need For Speed SHIFT and an exclusive mini fridge from Coca-Cola Zero, the campaign’s in-game advertiser.”

The campaign is great because it leverages the banner format to create an experience that acts as a game teaser, allowing users to get a feel for the visuals and gameplay while also competing against and interacting with other players in a web community, in a manner authentic to the experience of gaming on a web-enabled console. In housing the banners on racing and gaming sites, the campaign targets the right audience when they’re in the right mindset, and positions the game in the larger context of racing culture. Showcasing  the brand’s new offering without foisting itself on audiences is a tricky proposition for the garden-variety banner, but EA and Need For Speed: SHIFT succeeds by giving audiences something fun and relevant to play, in the process whetting their appetites for the real thing.

Again leveraging technology and community, simulating the video game experience, and driving traffic (pun intended) to the campaign website is EA’s Twitter mission series.

EA’s Need For Speed: SHIFT campaign reminds me of Mini’s stellar exemplar of how to create rich, interactive, inviting banners: their  “Follow the White Rabbit” campaign, in which users followed a white Mini Cooper from absurd, zany site to absurd, zany site, demonstrating the freewheeling, adventurous, and kooky spirit of the Mini brand and Mini owners.

Your phone, your Jumbotron?
December 8, 2009, 6:19 pm
Filed under: Technology | Tags: , , , ,

Wrigley Field

Sporting events are the ultimate public spectacle, but it seems that soon, that spectacle might just shrink to fit in your pocket.

PSFK reports that the Chicago Cubs, one of the only major sports teams without a Jumbotron, is considering allowing fans to instead use their smartphones as “their own personal jumbotrons” to view replays and stats during the game.

Such an exciting innovation would have the potential to deliver (and monetize) portable personalized content on demand—even adding a greater element of interactivity—but what might it do to the experience of watching as a mass, a community of fans? With eyes glued to individual screens, we are alone together—an experience unlike that which we currently seek out in sporting events as larger-than-life occasions that bring people together in celebration and camaraderie. Just something to think about.

Gmail’s mission transcends product portfolio with free holiday postcards
December 4, 2009, 4:14 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , ,

Gmail is all about connecting people, and this holiday season, it’s putting its money where its mouth is. To demonstrate their committment to communication of all kinds, Gmail is helping you reach out to the ones you love by sending a real, physical holiday postcard through the mail–on their dime–to the person of your choosing. Pick from one of six branded designs, ranging from subtle to less-so over at Gmail.

Gmail Card Design

Gmail Card Design

Gmail Card Design

User generated content: you’re doing it wrong (kind of)
November 30, 2009, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Advertising & Branding | Tags: , , ,

Iggy Pop

At first it seems like kind of a cool idea: rock legend Iggy Pop teams up with 8 amateur musicians for a little recording session…over Skype! In an age when Journey can hire its new lead singer off a Youtube clip, why not?

New Zealand’s Orcon broadband company commissioned this little stunt to tout the speed and clarity of its connections, bringing Iggy Pop together with 8 Kiwi contest-winners to record his classic, “The Passenger,” in a virtual jam session remotely via the internet. While it seems like a great way to involve audiences and prove Orcon’s brand claims, something is off, and as Pitchfork puts it, the result is “something of a clusterfuck.”

It seems here, as appears to be common with the faddish user generated content phenomenon (I’m hesitant to label this user participation, which I see as subtly different, a larger and more diverse umbrella–but I concede that this isn’t really straight UGC either), that the chief pitfall is that Orcon left the quality of this effort–and its brand–completely in the hands of users, thinking of it perhaps as cheap or easy advertising. While many companies do UGC for no discernable strategic reason, at least here I have to say Orcon’s approach does makes some sense–internet, collaboration-potential, clear signal, fast connection–I get it, I get it. But when you consider just how much time, effort, and monetary value is wrapped up in brands, it seems absurd the abandon with which companies regularly and cavalierly surrender brand control in ways that they would not with other more tangible assets–especially when UGC’s track record is so notoriously spotty. In Orcon’s case, perhaps a more cautious and brand-led approach would have yielded better, less-gimmicky results?

As for me, the next time I’m looking for my awkward-funny Kiwi music fix, I think I’ll just stick to Flight of the Conchords.