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Beware of shiny objects: CES boasts innovations that lack mass appeal

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“Whoa” is the first word that you noticed in this year’s CES promos and on attendee badges.

And, if you are similar to me, it’s the first word that you utter across all show floors and exhibit halls in Vegas.

Like when you see a “smart” bathroom promising to test your urine (that’s actually dumb). Or when you come upon signage proclaiming a “robot revolution” (that one is my official hype winner in what was, as always, an extremely competitive category).

I’m no anthropologist but some of my best learnings come from taxi drivers on the way to and from the conference.

This year, on the road in from the airport, a middle-aged gentleman at the wheel scoffed at the need for voice-activated devices all throughout his home.

“I’ve got that on my phone with Google,” he said. “Anything I need to know, I can get it already.”

For the fourth year in a row, I asked the so-called Average Joe and Joanne whether they have interest in a “smart” refrigerator that could tell them when they are low on milk or beer, and even save a return trip to the market for an otherwise forgotten item.

The answer is always “no” with privacy being the main inhibitor.

So, I guess the urine-screening toilet isn’t making it into their houses – or yours or mine – anytime soon.

Just what was shown at CES that could have mass appeal?

Those products that had a personal touch.

For instance, the smartest watch is the one that is intelligent about you, not everyone else. Casio brought a meaningful group of apps to a previously released watch that now caters to individual taste.

For instance, Fishbrain is supposedly the world’s largest community-based fishing app, producing local fishing forecasts and the best spots to catch that big one. However, I haven’t fished since I caught a muskie 27 years ago (luck, not app), so the Pro Trek Android Wear model had to offer me something else. Choices are now in the categories of skiing, surfing, golfing, swimming, and hiking. That works for me.

And all the apps are included with purchase of the watch.

Elsewhere, there were apps that solved some of life’s challenges – cooling a house in summer before you arrive home, for example. New? Not so much. Appealing to folks like my cab driver? Definitely. Those apps have become more intuitive and valuable.

But for all of the products that sought to address a need, there were thousands of others that left me scratching my head.

Atop that list were the self-driving concept cars from Ford and Toyota that touted pizza delivery as an effective use case. Will the cost go down for the consumer? Will the human-less car put more pepperoni on the pie? Is there a cost-savings for the pizza companies?

If the answers to all of those questions are no, please tell me why someone would be willing to go outside in the snow and darkness, in pajamas and slippers, to use an unfamiliar keypad to unlock a pizza that costs the same or more and makes the consumer work more for it.

Customers won't pay more for a pizza just because it comes in an innovative way. If a carrier pigeon could get it there hot and quickly and cheaper, they’d happily say, “the heck with self-driving cars.”

And about those robots everywhere? For what?

My wife doesn’t want a lawn mowing robot. She’ll quickly tell you that she married one.

The lesson of it all?

Beware of shiny objects. Know that the 180,000 who attended CES almost surely misrepresent your customers and prospects.

Build upon what you know. Definitely make bets on innovation or you will be left behind. But don’t wager the house.

Much of what we saw were early-adopter models at best, ones that caused a ripple on Twitter but are not destined to do the same on Main Street. Or in taxis where the real deciders of product success or not make their livings and spend their money judiciously.

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YouTube Re:View – Eminem battles Venom

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Show me entity :: 20930

Welcome to YouTube Re:View, a weekly listing of the most talked-about YouTube videos in the UK, brought to you by The Drum. This week Eminem takes on Venom, Post Malone pranks people with undercover record store surprise, Boston Dynamics' SpotMini takes on Bruno MArs, musician Calum Scott share his coming out story and Netflix get set to release it's latest original series, the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.

A shady symbiote – Eminem 'Venom' official music video

The music video for Eminem's latest track, 'Venom', from the motion picture staring Tom Hardy, follows the arc of a young man who finds a CD copy of the rapper's latest album Kamikaze on a street, only to discover that the disc is attempting to cover his body in black slime in the style of Venom.

(View Count: 184,672*)

Post Malone pranks people with undercover record store surprise

In support of Post Malone's Omaze campaign where you could ride with him in a Bentley and win your own, the rapper went undercover as an aspiring hip-hop artist where he workshops lyrics, talks about Bentleys and surprises fans.

(View Count: 3,635,874*)

SpotMini takes on Bruno Mars

Last week Boston Dynamics' Atlas was doing parkour. This week Spot is showing off it's dance moves, taking on Bruno Mars' Uptown Funk. These dance moves don;t only put some of us to shame, but are fantastic reminder of the rise of improvements in machines.

(View Count: 3,532,482*)

Calum Scott: A coming out story

Calum Scott made it to the finals of Britain's Got Talent in 2015. Three years later he released his debut album, Only Human. In this clip, the artist recounts a painful part of his young adult life, coming to terms with his sexuality and letting the world know about it. Abandoned by friends, in this moving profile, Scott explains how he found the courage to be truthful about himself through music.

(View Count: 567,575*)

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina trailer

Though there has been various versions of the infamous comic book teenage witch, Netflix's Chilling Adventures of Sabrina looks set to be the most horrifying of them all. Most teenagers only need to choose what birthday cake they want for their sweet 16, but half witch, half human Sabrina Spellman must make a choice between the witch world of her family and the human world of her friends.

(View Count: 3,968,266*)

YouTube UK Ads Leaderboard: September’s Top 10

Dior brings us all the joy literally, as their ad for their latest fragrance JOY clinches the top spot – while tech, cars, sport and the National Lottery (if we win that and the Bentley, we’ll be the happiest, right?) are fast in the running. Discover the latest Top 10 ads on the YouTube UK Ads Leaderboard and the brands and agencies who worked their magic to create them.

YouTube UK Ads Leaderboard: September’s Top 10

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(*all view count numbers, correct at time of publication)

Never miss a beat with the week's top videos on YouTube UK. Tune in next Friday for the next line-up.

Can’t wait? Get YouTube Re:View delivered straight to your inbox and visit Think with YouTube to find out why YouTube is more than just viewers.

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Cyprus Tourism Organisation launches month-long Halloumi pop-up in Soho

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From tomorrow (20 October) for one month only, Londoners will be treated to a brand-new halloumi pop-up restaurant serving a ‘bottomless halloumi brunch’ menu. The pop-up has been launched by the Cyprus Tourism Organisation (CTO) as a way of showcasing their national cheese and enticing people to visit the island.

Located in Soho at Las Banderas, the restaurant has been created especially for the event by Francis Puyat and Andrew Zilouf of 100 Hoxton, with the menu featuring an array of halloumi-inspired brunch dishes.

Christos Moustras of the Cyprus Tourism Organisation said: “Halloumi is Cyprus’ most popular cheese and we’re so excited to be able to bring a key element of Cypriot culture to our latest pop-up venture with Las Banderas. We are delighted to return and make halloumi the key focus of brunch, a popular meal time in the UK.”

Andrew Zilouf said: “As lovers of innovative food, we were thrilled to partner with the CTO for a second year running for this project and have worked really hard to create a menu that we hope is both inspiring and delicious, the perfect start to the day!”

Diners will be able to book for brunch at Las Banderas seven days a week from 11am-4pm, before it disappears on Sunday 18 November 2018.

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Are you a kinky copywriter?

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I am a man of unfailing habit. Drop me from the sky into even the most uninhabitable locations and within 45 minutes I will be gobbling cheap charcuterie while I re-watch Con Air.

In life, aside from making me awfully boring and clogging my pores with the distinct whiff of translucent meats, my habitual nature doesn't cause any great problems.

But translate the same appetite for routine into my copywriting and I'm about as much use as a dildo made from scorpions.

Habit, with cosy malevolence, throttles originality. Preference of any sort, if allowed to calcify around your process, eviscerates your imagination.

The trouble is, none of us is naturally immune to habit. The human brain can be a timid piece of apparatus, dating back from the time when experimenting with the unfamiliar was liable to leave you headless and quivering at the end of a pterodactyl's beak (please don't point out the appalling anthropological inaccuracies).

As such, the modern copywriter has inherited a fondness for routine that has been 8 billion years in the making (again, I know this is wrong, be quiet).

But while our endless capacity for habit may still keep us out of danger, it also blankets our creativity in a gentility it does not need.

Copywriting is not a profession for the risk-shy – even if the wider industry still has an uneven relationship with creative recklessness.

Habit and curiosity are doomed lovers. And, however messy the divorce may be, a copywriter should always seek custody of their more impulsive urges. And your Shabba Ranks CDs.

The problem is often that we are blind to our own habits. By their very nature, the auto-pilot elements of our creative method go unseen, humming along in the background like a computer's fan or an Ed Sheeran song.

Which is why every copywriter should continually unpick their own creative tapestry. Make sure they don't drift from brief to brief with the same style, the same desk, the same construct, the same joke, the same words – bucketing out slop and chum that's all been chopped from the same old sources.

Instead, our process should be kinky. Not in the sense that we handcuff ourselves to a gimp and write with a pencil in our teeth. Kinky in the sense that we are constantly looking for the next creative thrill, experimenting with the uncomfortable in the hope that discomfort will give us something new. Kinky in the sense that, if we've tried it once, we won't try it again for a bit, so rich is the promise of untouched spaces and unspanked alphabetical bottoms. Kinky in the sense that writing must feel exciting in order to sound exciting.

And if we fail to add this kinkiness to our writing, where are we? Sat in the tundra, watching a man in a vest beat people up on a plane, wondering, forlornly, where all the ham has gone.

Follow Andrew on Twitter for more perfectly accurate natural history

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