Occasionally being an early adopter has its rewards. Such was the case when I decided to install the new Apple 2.0 firmware the day before the 3G onslaught rendered millions of iPhones useless for the greater part of Friday. I upgraded my firmware like a good fanboy when Gizmodo reported it had been released into the wild and then headed straight to the new application store to see what the development community has been slaving away on since Apple released their SDK in February. So far, these are the applications that have really blown me away:
I have no idea how this actually works (guessing that every piece of music has a unique fingerprint of sorts) but basically you simply hold your iPhone up to the radio, press the tag button and it will tell you the name and artist. Haven't been able to stump it yet.
More novelty than actual utility, the Urban Spoon iPhone app lets you select from three key criteria for finding your next meal: cuisine, neighborhood, and price. Just give the iPhone a quick shake and the built-in accelerometer kicks in turning your iPhone into a dining roulette wheel. Don't feel like Greek food in Fremont? Just give the old appliance another shake. It's oddly addictive.
I heart SmugMug. IMO, the best of the photo sharing applications on the Net. With the Smugmug iPhone app, photos that you take on your iPhone are automatically uploaded directly to your Smugmug page. Now if you lose (the horror) your iPhone, you won't have to worry about when you last synched your phone.
If you haven't heard by now you must live in a cave. Or somewhere else besides Seattle. But if your ears are indeed open, you've likely heard about Starbucks closing all of their stores for three hours from the highly caffeinated hours between 5 - 8 PM on Tuesday night. I've heard this story now a few times on NPR, it's been replayed on the local news, and if you do a Google News search for "Starbucks closing" you get some 700 news stories.
I don't know what the average per store revenue is for the average store but I can tell you that if you look at the (crude) ad equivalency of the value of all that coverage (not to mention the emotional resonance of returning Starbucks to its provincial roots), it was a killer deal. I wonder if someone has done the math yet?
My ADWEEK newsletter just popped in my inbox, and there at the top was a story about my old agency SS+K and a new campaign they're putting together for Credo, the mobile rebrand of Working Assets. The campaign reminds me of the one that Nike ID ran in Times Square a few years back where people could customize a shoe and then have it displayed on the giant LCD screen for all of Times Square to see. All in all, pretty cool stuff and you can imagine that these types of interactive 'projectiles' will stand out against a landscape of static billboards. Personally, love this particular iteration and can imagine that there will be some very entertaining panels (according to the article, Seattle is the next city following San Fran).
The other, less auspicious campaign this recalls is the now notorious Chevy campaign where Ford invited the new crop of Web auteurs to create and post their own Tahoe commercials, the vast majority of which (hilariously) excoriated Ford and its gas guzzling surrogate. So while I'm eager to see how this campaign materializes, it's safe to say that there will likely be some type of intermediary between what a passerby texts and what is projected on to the side of a building. Just imagine the irreverant possibilities! And were a schoolbus full of impressionable young (and presumably literate) children to glean something highly objectionable in the thought bubble, is there then an issue of liability? And who exactly would be liable in such an event (fortunately don't think the FCC has control over brick facades... yet...)? If on the other hand, Credo/SS+K decide to give texters free reign, think it would set a precedent that will obviously have some very interesting PR/crisis repurcussions.
Regardless, hope someone out there creates a flickr pool of the panels...
These days, every company seems to have one thing in common -- they're all going Green. And not in the traditional, capitalistic sense but rather in the tree hugging, carbon footprint reducing one. The perception naturally is that consumers will reward those companies (and perhaps pay a premium) to those that they perceive are doing well by doing good. These
same companies -- whether its Shell, Ford or Apple -- spend a pretty expensive penny trying to convince us that they're being responsible stewards of the environment. While their motives are not hard to ferrett out, I do question how effective these campaigns are (and what criteria they use to measure whether or not they are successful). Do consumers really believe these pronouncements to be authentic? Or is it simply a case of "Greenwashing"? (actually, greenwashing isn't really the right term as it implies that an organization is acting in a way that is in direct opposition to what it is publicizing -- I'm talking more about "GreenVeneering" in which there may not be any malicious intent but it simply rings hollow)
While Greenwashing/veneering isn't a new idea per se, it's certainly become more pronounced over the past few years as more companies jump on the eco merry-go-round. While not nearly as insidious as Astroturfing, the practice of Greenwashing is becoming an all too common component of modern PR strategies, especially for large consumer product companies who recognize that today's younger generation is more cognizant of environmental issues (whether or not their cognizance translates into purchasing is another question) But I would argue -- without anything substantial to back me up -- that consumers, young and old alike, are increasingly becoming desensitized to these messages, rendering these campaigns largely ineffective in the long term. If this turns out to be the case, will companies be less inclined to invest in eco-friendly messages? Or rather, will they be forced to identify new strategies that actually demonstrate the impact (or lack there of) they're making?