Hello and welcome to your weekly FWD. As the world’s eyes fell on Pyeongchang for the Winter Olympics this time last week, can you guess who the star of the opening ceremony was? No, not the topless Tongan athlete braving the freezing cold weather. It was in fact Intel that stole the show with a light show featuring a record-breaking 1,218 drones. Following Intel’s success, OMD UK’s Head of Insight, Sarah Gale, explores how brands can shine at the Winter Olympics.
Love it or hate it, it’s also hard to ignore the buzz surrounding Valentine’s Day so here’s a round-up of the ten best V-Day campaigns this year!
- Location based content? Snap announces Snap Maps access for users and non-users
- Is 2018 the year Facebook finally adds a downvote/dislike function?
- Who won the Super Bowl? Advertising of course – summaries here, here and from Harvard Business school – here
- Bald? Ginger? All of the above? Good news, you’re on the Emoji honours list for 2018
- How Sports Directs investment in eSports means a catered space for gaming in-store
- With this year’s Disney’s D23 Expo in full swing, we look at how last year’s announcement, Flavor Labs, is shaping up
- Social or Display? Find out which platform engages the brain more effectively
- Once derided as an outdated format from the internet dark ages, charting the renaissance of the GIF
- An interesting overview of the nuances between the web 2.0 and 3.0 (a clue, it’s all about decentralisation)
We love it when you get involved…please share anything you find interesting using #OMDFWD!
Hello and welcome to another weekly dose of OMD FWD, where most of our highlights come from the USA. As Trump continues to rock the world with his Muslin ban, tech giants including Google Microsoft and Facebook stand up for their existing employees and future talent. Meanwhile, Dove UK launch their #AlternativeFactsCampaign.
The Superbowl has also dominated recent headlines with Lady Gaga using 300 Intel-powered drones during halftime. With so much hype and exposure, it’s no wonder brands want to get a slice of the action, despite the $5M price tag! Don’t miss the best and worst from Superbowl TV ads in 2017.
- Tech giants including Google, Microsoft and Facebook rally against Trump’s Muslim ban amidst fears for existing employees as well as the future of progressive thinking in the USA
- Instagram launches Snapchat-esque ‘disappearing’ photo and video functionality
- Dove UK brilliantly trolls the Trump administration’s attitude towards suspect information with their #AlternativeFacts campaign
As ever, please tag and share anything you spot with #OMDFWD.
The luxury and technology sectors have traditionally viewed each other from afar. Luxury has gained its value from scarcity whereas technology generates more value when it is widely used. Over recent years, this distance has begun to shrink as technology has become ubiquitous. Just like every other sector, Luxury has been impacted by new technology and this year’s CES saw this trend continue. We at OMD have identified four mechanisms by which luxury and technology are becoming ever more intertwined.
Luxury – the new technology niche where style is a differentiator
Nokia spotted the niche of high-end luxury in consumer electronics with the introduction of the Vertu brand in 1998 while last year Apple accelerated this sector with the launch of the Apple Watch Edition, made from the highest quality materials.
A wider range of brands joined this trend at CES, focusing on not just the technical function of their product but also the luxurious design. One example is Huawei which has launched a line of watches embedded with Swarovski crystals. As technology becomes ever-present, growth will come from better servicing specific niches, some of which are happy to pay a significant premium for exclusivity.
To gain credibility in this space, technology brands are choosing to partner with luxury and fashion brands. Intel, for example, partnered with Chromat for a new engineered sports bra. We can expect to see many more partnerships between technology brands and brands from the fashion, style and luxury sectors at future CES events.
Luxury brands upgrading with technology
The other side of the coin is embedding technology in luxury products. A number of fashion and luxury brands appeared at CES this year, building on a small but growing, presence. Swarovski returned to CES with Get Fit In Style fitness tracking jewellery, a simple sensor embedded in everyday jewellery that reports back to a smartphone app.
Wisewear from Apfel also integrates notifications into smart jewellery. A pre-defined touch will alert another device of problems, such as a fall or a dangerous situation on a night out.
Many connected services gain most value if they are persistent and worn every day. Embedding technology invisibly in products we wear on a regular basis rather than a specialist technology, which may make the wearer feel self-conscious, is a far more effective approach.
Technology as a new luxury
Technology is pushing into new boundaries as the previously impossible becomes achievable, if a little expensive.
A number of very high-end technologies appeared at this year’s CES. Laundroid, a laundry folding system, is due to launch in 2017. This device takes clothing direct from the dryer and then folds and displays it neatly. Likewise, the LGStyler is a smart closet that automatically steams and cleans clothes.
Drones were another big theme at CES 2016. At the high-end, ehang showcased the 184, an autonomous vehicle designed to carry people. Whilst there are still many technical and liability hurdles to cross, we may soon see the era of personal aerial transportation in and around cities.
One day some of these technologies will be mass labour- and time-saving devices, but for now they will only appeal to the most exclusive niches. They will drive new levels of expectation and new opportunities for integration and partnership.
Luxury tech experiences
High-end hardware is not the only way to differentiate with technology. Luxury brands are also investing in luxury technology-based experiences and content.
Virtual Reality was a huge theme at CES, confidently stepping into the mainstream – for example, Oculus Rift launched its first consumer product alongside devices from Sony, Samsung and Google. Brands are now creating experiences to showcase products and content in a Virtual Reality environment. Whirlpool illustrated a vision of a futuristic high end kitchen using VR, whilst Dior has already released a branded headset for VR brand experiences.
We are at the dawn of an entirely new medium with VR; the very best experiences will require sophisticated technology. Luxury brands have the opportunity to make a powerful statement in this space, especially to showcase luxury real estate, travel and lifestyle.
Technology continues to pervade our lives and every sector must account for new opportunities and disruptions. Luxury brands are learning to understand how their products and propositions are impacted by the huge range of accelerating technologies displayed at CES. This is achieved not by jumping on the latest technology bandwagon, but instead by refocusing on core brand attributes and understanding how technology can empower those concepts.
Christmas is barely over and the annual pilgrimage to the tech mecca that is the Consumer Electronics Show has already started with an expected 200,000 geeks and gear heads descending on Las Vegas as I write. As ever, it promises to be bigger (2.4 million sq ft of space, up 10% on last year), brasher and bolder than ever before. But frankly that’s the same every year – it is Vegas after all. Baby.
The doors don’t officially open until Wednesday but the anticipation levels here are already cranked up to eleven and the rumour mill is humming like a flux capacitor. So I’ve scoured that interweb thingy and (beyond the usual slew of larger TV’s and smarter smartphones) I have compiled a list of the top 7 areas of focus at this years tech-fest:
1. Connected Cars – only 5 years ago, there were none of the automotive manufacturers here at CES. This year? There will be 10 of the major car makers present and a further 100 smaller auto tech companies exhibiting their wares. Last year Mercedes unveiled their autonomous ‘living room on wheels‘ the F015 and there are noises being made that Ford have been working with Google on their own version which may be showcased at CES. What we do know (because they have officially announced it) is that BMW are going to be showing off their new Air Touch system which is effectively a 3 dimensional hand scanning interface for controlling a whole array of functions within the vehicle. Bye bye buttons on the dashboard?
Also, as a outside bet for something revolutionary take a gamble on a Chinese firm called Faraday Future who claim to have a concept which, in their words at least, will “define the future of mobility”. Sounds interesting right and given their name I’d wager that it is most likely an electric vehicle? A Tesla rival maybe? Oh and the ‘spy shots’ make it look like the Batmobile…
2. Wearable Tech – this sector was the bleeding edge of revolutionary thinking just a few years ago at CES but is now much more part of the mainstream, epitomised by the likes of Fitbit. They have a major press conference lined up for Tuesday morning so expect a big announcement. Given their ‘teaser’ for this event (a little flash of leather) I’m guessing some kind of fashion related tie up? In fact that could be a common trend this year with the likes of Huawei set to unveil a smartwatch that will apparently appeal to women and a company called Wisewear going one step further and releasing a range of high-end connected jewellery. Jewelification if you will. It’s a thing. You read it here first. Live with it.
And some of the more, shall we say, quirky offerings? Well from Digitsole we get the spiritual successor to the self-lacing training shoe from Back to the Future 2. Great Scott! There is also the OMBra which aims to measure a woman’s biometrics via a piece of clothing already worn daily. And finally, there is apparently a preponderance of pet related tech such as PitPat which is an activity tracker for your pampered pooch.
3. Day of the Drones – again, becoming much more of a mainstay at CES these days with all eyes looking skyward to see what the guys from GoPro have got to offer in the guise of Karma which is reputed to have a full 360 degree view and (most importantly for dodgy drone pilots like me) collision avoidance functionality.
Safety does appear to be a recurring theme this year with drones, like the new product from Fleye which has hidden rotor blades (and looks a little like an upturned desk fan) plus an exciting development from UK firm Intelligent Energy who will be demonstrating their hydrogen fuel cell which allows a drone to stay airborne for hours instead of minutes (or, as we established earlier, seconds if I am at the controls).
4. VR becomes a Reality – Oculus Rift was the darling of CES when it launched its virtual reality headset on an unsuspecting world just 3 years ago. I queued for a few hours back then for a go and was blown away by what I (virtually) saw. Rapidly snapped up by Facebook in $2 billion deal in 2014, we have seen refinements but no finished product. That is all set to change with the breaking news that pre-orders open on 6th January. Immaculate timing. And if that’s the case, then surely we will get to see the finished article at CES?
But it’s not just about Oculus, there are plenty of big hitting rivals keen to grab their slice of the virtual pie. Sony are expected to release details of their PlayStation VR headset with rumours of smartphone compatibility and HTC are also doing a press conference this afternoon on their very own updated / revised Vive unit.
5. Rise of the Robots? – ever since the very first CES show way back in 1967, robots have been an ever present theme. We are fascinated with them but, to date, manufacturers haven’t been able to make them truly viable for consumers. Our attempts have been clunky at best and downright embarrassing at worst. So with 71% more floor space at CES dedicated to robots than last year is 2016 the year to change all that and launch us into a dystopian world of RoboCop and the Terminator? The answer to that is an emphatic ‘no’ given what is on offer.
Japanese firm, Flower Robotics reckon their little robot will bring ‘beauty’ to the genre as they have designed their metal friends to be as aesthetically pleasing as they are practical. Call me a cynic but I’m not convinced – to me it just looks like an LED light bulb, with two plastic spoons strapped to the side and a webcam plonked on top. A much more practical and worthy contender is Leka which is a robot developed to help stimulate children with autism and other developmental disorders.
6. Internet of Everything – the buzz phrase for the past few years at CES has been IoT – the internet of things. This year, I think it will finally morph into IoE, the ‘internet of everything’. The trailblazers were Nest with their smart plugs and app controlled central heating systems. Now it seems everyone has jumped on the proverbial bandwagon if you take a mere glimpse at the dazzling array of connected items that are being touted this year. I honestly can’t think of anything that is left that can be digitised and / or app’d. Here are just a few examples of what’s on offer this year…
– a shower head that tracks how much water you have utilised (have I missed something but why would you want to do that?)
– a vibrating sofa to alert you when your favourite TV show is about to start (the mind boggles as to what kind of content you might watch with this gadget)
– an alarm clock that will wake you up with a smell rather than a noise – odours on offer include croissant, peach and (erm) money? (very apt for Vegas I suppose)
Seriously though, you cant make this stuff up.
So there you have it, my top 6 predictions / watch-outs for CES 2016. Keep reading over the next few days as I get down to the CES floor for a ‘walk about’ and bring you an up-to-the-minute status on all the other tech that’s on offer plus a closing review with a ‘best and worst’ tech from this year’s event.