Which is why there’s no way I could resist asking Rich Silverstein and other people central to its creation to appear on-camera to share insights on "The Seagate Living Logo"—the world’s first patent-pending corporate brand identity.
(See video at bottom)
NEVER THE SAME LOGO TWICE
Yes, it’s true that brand identities rendered in real time through data visualization have been around for a while now.
But the Seagate Living Logo—launched at CES last January—is the first to have a patent in play for literally taking its shape using live data feeds flowing from public data sources such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LastFM, Amazon, Getty Images and more.
The idea? To represent the integral role Seagate storage solutions play in storing 40% of the world’s data, and in enabling the data-centric business models of today’s most innovative companies.
INNOVATION IN MOTION
Throughout the last 12 months, new variants have included interactive Living Logos that respond to physical movements through Microsoft Kinect-based technology—allowing you to essentially swim amid social media posts and images.
A standalone Facebook version lets you personalize the experience using your own online images.
And another can be customized in real time using Twitter and Instagram keywords and handles, as well as your own uploaded images, for live business meetings and events.
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG (DATA)
As is typical in social media these days, reaction to the Living Logo there and elsewhere has ranged from the snarky to the sublime.
Yet regardless of where you fall on that score, the Living Logo represents a notable new entry into the annals of corporate branding.
And it seems to have sparked a trend.
Last July, Brazilian telco FS Company launched a dynamic logo that uses code and generative design to reflect the real-time activity on the company’s servers.
And a UK-based design firm called Amaze is now tracking employees’ physical movements and digital activities to drive a “human-powered” living logo using a framework that sounds a lot like Seagate’s.
Which makes sense. Given the fact that Gartner reports nearly 75% of companies plan to invest in big data solutions in the next two years, the Seagate Living Logo surely stands on the cutting edge of what is likely to become a crowded field in the years ahead.
This short video, edited by Seagate’s George Shubin, will give you the inside scoop on the Seagate Living Logo and how it came to be.
(Full disclosure: I've had creative input on the development of the Living Logo, and have worked closely with these and other people working on the project at Seagate, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, Pet Gorilla and elsewhere.)
DATA IS BEAUTIFUL: THE STORY BEHIND THE SEAGATE LIVING LOGO
As the marketing world obsesses over Coca-Cola's decision to trade out its hugely popular "Open Happiness" tagline to "Taste the Feeling"(see one of 25 new spots, above), it's been fun revisiting the commotion created over some of its previous slogan changes.
Check out reaction (including my own) to "The Coke Side of Life" in Ad Age a decade ago.
Indeed, whenever Coca-Cola makes marketing changes of this magnitude, it can be a hoot to take stock of its taglines from times past. You usually find some surprises along the way.
A SIP DOWN MEMORY LANE
Despite being one of the world's most successful brands, there have certainly been some oddballs in Coca-Cola's advertising oeuvre—who can resist "Enjoy a Glass of Liquid Laughter" (1911), or "Proves a Big Help to Tired Housewives" (1909)?
And then there's that golden oldie: "Coca-Cola: The Great National Temperance Beverage" (1907)—which, we're told, "has none of the ill effects or 'let down' qualities of alcoholic stimulants." Yum.
Some old taglines are just inscrutable—"Same to You" (1940) sounds as if the feeling you're tasting is indignation.
And present-day regulators might have a field day with any tagline that proclaims Coke is "Pure and Healthful" (1904), and "Adds a Refreshing Relish to Every Form of Exercise" (1906), with "The Perfect Blend of Pure Products from Nature" (1923).
To modern audiences, other tags charitably might seem like aspirational positioning in the extreme—such as, "The Ideal Beverage for Discriminating People" (1906), "The Sign of Good Taste" (1957), and "The Best Drink Anyone Can Buy" (1913).
After all, everyone knows the best drink you can buy isn't Coca-Cola. It's Coke Zero.
PAST AS PROLOGUE?
Despite so many antiquated curios from campaigns past, many Coke taglines of yesteryear would be completely at home in the digital age.
Think about it:
In an era of virtual reality, 3D printing and social media poseurs, Coke promises to bring you "The Real Thing" (1948)
Ad skipping technology? "Relax with the Pause that Refreshes" (1947)
The age of Uber and Airbnb? "Share a Coke" (2011)
Group texting, geo-fencing and flash mobs? "Meet Me at the Soda Fountain" (1930)
Personal aerial drones? "Look Up, America!" (1975)
Even online activism and crowd funding fit that all-time favorite, "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke" (1971).
Yet perhaps it's that texting-and-flash-mob example that hits home most. As it happens, Coke classics seem especially well suited for the mobile revolution—including (among a surprising number of others):
Whether this is all a sign of soda-pop prescience, promotional predestination or pure chance, Coca-Cola remains a venerable brand whose slogans will provide plenty for (pop-) cultural anthropologists to ponder in decades to come.
Will future advertising aficionados still find it as amusing as we do?
This is one game that's easier to play than avoid.
We're all guilty of overusing tech industry buzzwords. And why not? They play a useful role as common shorthand that (conveniently) confers an aura of "cool" to those fluent in the lingua franca of 21st century business.
But as CES 2016 reaches its climax, many of us are finding ourselves facing buzzword burnout over what feels like an egregious level of noise pollution emanating from Las Vegas over the last few days.
“Disruptive.” “Influencer.”“(Anything)-Hacking.” “Unicorn.” I'm sure we've heard them all this week, many times over.
Never mind that some of this lingo could be headed for limbo faster than Kim (or any other) Kardashian can “Break the Internet.”
“Unicorn,” for instance, is quickly morphing into “unicorpse,” as concerns grow that companies like Gilt,Tango and SFX Entertainment may prove emblematic of some of these hard-to-find beasts with billion-dollar valuations may ultimately fare.
In the meantime, GEN WOW found some catharsis in a piece this week by Shawn Paul Wood in PR Newser, lamenting some of the most irksome buzzwords found in news stories and press releases.
When we mentioned the article in our GEN WOW LinkedIn Group, member Rick Wootten, senior director of global marketing for Seagate, mused about having some fun with it all—in the form of a game of "Buzzword Bingo."
That sparked an in-group and subsequent email conversation about developing a mobile app for facilitating a decidedly tech industry-centric version of the game at events such as, well, CES.
"It's natural for industry buzzwords to come and go in cycles, but sometimes enough of them peak at the same time to create Lingo Overload," Wootten says. "We're experiencing one of those times right now—and I think we should make the most of it!"
It's a great idea—and one that might prompt us all (myself included) to be a little more judicious about how often (and how accurately) we use these phrases.
Best of all, while it could take even the most agile development team (another buzzword) days or weeks to produce a full-blown app, we figured we'd just mock up a bare bones Buzzword Bingo card so you can start playing today.
How to Play
Each time a news story or press release using one of these painfully overused words or phrases hits your inbox or browser window, mark off a square.
Capture the link to the story or release for validation.
Mark off a solid horizontal, vertical or diagonal line of lingo—and BINGO!
If the mood strikes us, we'll try a formal round this coming Post-CES news week. Who knows, there might even be a prize involved.
That is, if the game doesn't go too fast. A three-minute audit of my inbox and news feeds this morning produced plentiful junk jargon, including:
A particular pet peeve. Not merely because it’s so overused, but because there’s no such thing.
So far as I can tell, the total number of so-called “sharing economy” companies that are “sharing” anything comes to zero.
That Uber driver isn’t “sharing” her car. You have used an app to request a ride that you will pay a fee for using. The only thing that may get "shared" is polite conversation on the way to your destination. The far more accurate term is “the on-demand economy,” since that’s truly the distinction separating many of these new services from what has come before. Then again, I'm biased.
Perp: Business Insider (quoting a car company executive). Again, I am including links not to call out the pub or its sources—we're all guilty of geekspeak—but rather to document buzzword use so I can claim my square.
"IoT" & "IoE'
Ah, "The Internet of Things" or "The Internet of Everything." Whatever variant you want to use, it’s surely vying to be #1 biggest buzzword at CES this year. Perps just today include EE Times, ZDNet and EWeek.
Mobile is where it’s at again this year, though we quibble with its definition these days.
For instance, Facebook says nearly 80% of its ad revenue come from mobile advertising. But in our humble opinion, just because an ad is experienced on a mobile device doesn’t mean it’s “mobile.”
Small wonder then, that as in year’s past, most of our top pics for 2015 bring something more to “mobile” – by in fact, relating to place, or the specific capabilities or key functionality of the device in which they are consumed.
Here's 10 of our favorites from the year that was.
This wildly popular (and widely spoofed) holiday campaign from UK retailer John Lewis includes a mobile app featuring augmented reality that lets you point your phone toward the moon to unlock daily facts about each phase of the moon. There’s also a game in which the player has to avoid obstacles and collect power boosts to get a specific item up to the man on the moon.
Despite the fact that we're never ones to require any additional prompting to drink Coke Zero – we live on the stuff – this year’s “drinkable advertising” caught our notice. The campaign’s TV spots featured Coke Zero being poured from an onscreen bottle – before migrating to viewers’ mobile phone screens before transmogrifying into a coupon.
What’s not to love about the World Wild Life Fund’s “Last Selfie” promotion with Snapchat, which takes advantage of the fleeting, transient nature of Snapchat snaps with short ads that show just how quickly an endangered species can be wiped off the planet. Powerful, and perfect for the platform. In just its first week, consumers posted 40,000 tweets about the initiatives to 120 million timelines. And in just three days, WWF reached its fundraising target for the entire month.
This year, Guess's special mobile ad units enabled users to snap selfies and then “try on” sunglasses via augmented reality, complete with pointers on which styles work best for your face shape. The user takes or uploads a selfie, adjusts the placement, applies from a wide selection of sunglasses and can even share the image for feedback from far-flung friends via their social platforms. Add a "buy" button and this could be m-commerce magic instead of just promotion.
How do you get shoppers into store locations during the Easter season? Launch an augmented reality Egg Hunt for the chance to win store gift cards. Here’s a brick & mortar retailer (in Australia) that refused to shy away from mobile and instead embraced it to enhance the retail experience.
This summer, the online music streaming service rolled out a "Found Them First" microsite that lets users see which musicians the system knows they heard before the artists became megawatt sensations. Users can then build and share a playlist built on those early discoveries. In exchange, Spotify will offer them a new playlist with other new acts they might help “discover” as well.
MINI USA is big on short online films featuring its cars, so it made since that the brand would be among the first to take 360-degree video for a test drive. Two such films, “Backwater” and “Real Memories” are definitely worth a gander—and could mean big things for the road ahead.
Let’s face it: You’re not quite you when you’re hungry, are you? Which is why the latest installment of Snickers’ long-running "You're Not You" campaign includes a mobile app that enables consumers to create images related to their particular hunger symptoms and share them socially. The key isn’t to show off what kind of hungry you are, of course. It’s about calling out family and friends for acting “snippy,” “loopy,” “cranky,” “confused,” “spacey," or ... insert your own adjective here.
Yes, I’m still fixated on this VR initiative from Qantas, which enables you to go on a eight-minute, 360-degree virtual vacation to Hamilton Island. In fact, it was really hard to decide between this and our #1 pick this year. It is, after all, either instant justification for the VRevolution, or a sure sign of the Apocalypse. Once companies start producing VR content like this that lasts not minutes but for hours on end, the human race may just opt out of the “reality” part of the equation all together—at least when they aren’t physically going to these amazing locales.
Okay, there's rarely a moment when a large TV screen is much out of arms reach these days. So maybe this is the solution to a problem that few will ever face. But it's still hard not to dig the Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box - a pizza box that's also a movie projector. Throw in a cold one and this could be the best thing to happen to pizza since pepperoni.
While many people believe it’s a matter of simply posting a video and waiting for it to take off, success comes from share-worthy content backed by promotion—and plenty of it.
The problem with our 2015 list of favorites is that there was so much video that fit the description above that it’s hard to zero in on just 10 favorites. So out of easily two dozen brand videos that hit and stayed on our radar this year, here is an unusually imperfect breakdown of 10 that rose to the top.
(Though our annual list captures videos that generated massive numbers of online views, it reflects personal appeal, not literal rankings).
As in year’s past, a large number of our selections pull at the heartstrings. Others also made some of our other awards lists, most notably this year’s of Top 10 Prankvertisements. And a few won’t be appropriate for every person (or every setting).
But every one of them is worth at least one last look.
Yes, we’re suckers for patriotic branding. And yes, this Super Bowl spot from Jeep was not without some sniggering (Adweek was quick to point out similarities with the North Face spot that ran during the Super Bowl last year—right down to the soundtrack). It still works for us.
Maybe we should call the Nazca Lines the NASCAR Lines. No, Hyundai’s not exactly going for racing glory here. But in an effort to highlight and humanize its innovative thinking, the brand is using synchronized driving to create markings that can only make sense from space. Nearly 70 million earthlings got the message.
It’s the “stool for better stools” – and it’s the latest potty humor-infused brand video from the team behind Poo Pourri’s mega hit “Girls Don’t Poop.” Over 50 million views later, this little brand that could has seen sales rise from $3 million last year to $15 million in 2015 (an appearance on NBC’s Shark Tank late last year didn't stink, either).
On the flipside of the “Girl Power” ethos of #LikeAGirl, this public service spot from Fan Page spot addresses male attitudes toward domestic violence in Italy on the heels of a UN report calling it “the most pervasive form of violence” in that country, and after Prime Minster Enrico Letta referred to the problem as “femicide.” Put on the spot, some young men school some other members of their gender on basic human decency.
Is it ironic or fitting that Barbie—a dichotomous figure that has always aspired to empower even while being seen by many to objectify—also made our list? In a year when an artificial intelligence-enabled "Hello Barbie" creeped out some parents (and child psychiatrists), it’s hard not to love this prank video that gets to the brand’s ambitions perfectly.
Though it’s not exclusively about any one segment of the population, this video captures the spirit of summer 2015, when the US Supreme Court caught up with the rest of America in its collective declaration that love wins. It always does, even if it takes a very long time.
Who knew a gum commercial could pack as much narrative emotion as any of the year’s top movies into a two-minute video (at top)? Now that’s something to chew on. And in the spirit of giving a little extra, check out this BTS video of Haley Reinhart doing the Elvis cover. (You're welcome.)
I keep thinking Oxford Dictionaries was only pranking us by naming this emoji as its 2015 Word of the Year.
Not the word “emoji,” mind you. Literally this symbol – “tears of joy.”
But for those who have been doing their best to resist letting lose with their emojis, myself included, the year’s prankvertising-slash-stuntvertising videos proved "mischievous" doesn’t always have to be "mean," at least not all the time
A look at some of our favorites from what seemed (mostly) like a kinder, gentler year in branded pranks:
Let’s not forget that Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” and Always’ Effie-winning #LikeAGirl campaign are really prankvertising – putting young people on the spot to ask provocative questions in an effort to prove a point. Heck, I pull pranks on my daughter all the time, but rarely (okay, never) so successfully. This summer’s “Unstoppable,” timed perfectly around the hype around CBS’s girl power-themed ‘Supergirl,’ may end up describing this campaign. And “Choose Beautiful” is just that: beautiful.
Would it kill Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada to pull this prank on one my outbound vacation or inbound business flights? Carlsbad did, in this prank pulled on some very happy Londoners on their way home from holiday, as the Brits say. A nice little souvenir that’s sure to put some fun on tap at home.
Sometimes pranks are well deserved. This noteworthy effort from Y&R Moscow used technology to scan cars to see if they had disabled stickers. If they didn’t, and the driver pulled into parking places designated for the disabled anyway, a holographic image of a wheelchair-bound man accosted them on the street. Surely a sign of signs to come.
Even in a year with some pretty monumental Supreme Court decisions on personal liberty, this is pretty powerful stuff – a prank to make passersby come face to face with their own snap judgments about age, race, sexuality, gender, religion and love. Projects like this makes me proud to be in this business.
Longtime readers know I’m partial to horror movie promotional pranks like “Devil’s Due” and “Telekinetic Coffee House” but this one from Jaguar New Zealand may just take the cake. Not only does it play off all the hype around augmented reality, but it's spot on from a positioning standpoint – nothing can simulate what it’s like to drive a Jag, right? – and it drives it all home in unforgettable fashion. Hat tip to Rick Wootten for finding this one.
Turns out all the crazy rumors were true: Social media marketing is more than just Facebook, YouTube & Twitter these days.
For all the buzz we’d hear over the years about how this or that social platform is sure to be a boon for marketers (…remember Google+?...) talk usually just circled back to Facebook, Twitter and maybe throw in a YouTube video and a vine and call it a day.
Not in 2015 – at least not all the time.
With certain audiences (read: millennials) Instagram, Periscope, Snapchat and others helped marketers seriously hit their marks.
A look at some of our favorite social media campaigns from the year that was, not necessarily in any order:
GoPro is obviously a brand built on content – it is, after all, its raison d'etre. Who doesn’t love those extreme sports shots of people doing acrobatics as they skydive or ski or jump trashcans in the driveway on their bikes? But even in 2015, we can’t escape online cat videos—and in the case of this Instagram (and YouTube) campaign, you wouldn’t want to. Meet Didga, an Australian cat that skateboards—incredibly well. That said, there's a family nearby that has a dog—a little bulldog named Henny—that skateboards all over the place, and even has her own YouTube channel. I'm not sure she's quite Didga's level yet. But who knows: Maybe she'll have her own GoPro video series one day.
My wife could seriously be a talent scout for any genre in the music industry—I can’t tell you how many times she has discovered bands and said “these guys are going to be huge in a couple of years" and been spot on. Unlike my wife, many music aficionados like to claim bragging rights for being the first to find hot acts. Which makes Spotify’s #FoundThemFirst social campaign so compelling. Last summer, the online music streaming service rolled out a "Found Them First" microsite that lets users see which musicians the system knows they heard before they became megawatt sensations. They can then build and share a playlist built on their discoveries—and Spotify will offer them a new playlist with other new acts they might like as well.
I've never been that into Groupon, but I have to admit this campaign was, er, ballsy. In April, Groupon posted a Facebook photo of plastic banana containers, as if they were packaged goods, and responded to everybody who posted a suggestive joke. I have no idea if the bunkers sold well, but it’s still fun. And at over 45,000 shares, apparently others also saw the appeal. Pardon the pun.
Taco Bell and millennials are made for each other. So Snapchat must be the perfect platform for both, right? Well if this little initiative is any indication, the answer is an emphatic (thumb’s up). Taco Bell hired two twentysomethings to essentially set up a “Stories” studio/”news room” where they could create and collaborate with super fans on fun real-time and more thought-out content (including a lot of UGC). And while we haven’t seen any sales figures for platform promotions, we still have to imagine this channel can’t hurt with this QSR’s most devote customers.
Let’s try to get a little control over our Emoji, folks. Yes, Oxford named this emoji as its 2015 Word of the Year. Not the word “emoji,” mind you. Literally this symbol—“tears of joy” is the Word of the year. And as if by magic, Durex has a new hashtag campaign that might just inspire you to use that emoji – or even better, one that helps young people talk about safe sex. As it happens, Durex research shows that 50% of 18-25 year-olds use emoji when discussing sex. So for World AIDS Day December 1, Durex is asking for help encouraging the Emoji masters who create the official icons to create a condom Emoji.
Worth it: This series of online videos for Hefty Easy Grip plastic cups turns conventions on head with stereotypical moms who speak fluent over-the-top teen that had had fans going cray. One installment, #Turnt (shown at top), has been viewed 2.6 million times on YouTube alone, #WorthIt, 2.1 million times. Who knew suburban moms could have so much street cred?
This UK-based consumer insurance cooperative was putting on the hits this year with NostalgiaFM, which allows users to enter the year they first past their driver’s test for a playlist of #1 songs from that month and year. Over 15,000 people used the app on its first day. And in its first five days, the effort generated 200,000 engagements on Twitter and Facebook, and a huge amount of traffic to the company’s website.
What’s not to love about the World Wild Life Fund’s “Last Selfie” promotion with Snapchat, which takes advantage of the fleeting, transient nature of Snapchat communications with short ads that show just how quickly an endangered species can be wiped off the planet. Powerful, and perfect for the platform. In just its first week, consumers posted 40,000 tweets about the initiatives to 120 million timelines. And in just three days, WWF reached its fundraising target for the entire month.
These shoes were made for helping: TOMS built its brand on donating a pair of shoes to needy children for every pair sold. This summer, whenever someone posted an Instagram photo of their bare feet using the hashtag, TOMS would give away a pair of shoes to someone in need—no purchase necessary—to the tune of 296,243 pairs.
Let's just say I was into the "Internet of Things" before it was much of "a thing" at all.
Never mind that a survey this year finds 87% of consumers say they've never heard the term. In my 2005 book BRANDING UNBOUND, I wrote extensively about the Internet of Things (or, IoT), and such coming innovations as "smart clothes" that would one day routinely monitor heart patients and alert doctors of impending heart attacks.
And intelligent homes, buildings and stores that will react to, and even predict, your every command—setting temperatures and lighting to your liking, and offering up goods and services based on your personal preferences.
Then there was the personalized content streamed direct to your car. Designer clothes that tell the washing machine, "don't wash me, I'm dry clean only." Medicines that warn users of dangerous interactions. Cars that get "upgrades" remotely via mobile software. And frozen dinners that tell the microwave oven how to cook them to perfection.
Nest, Tesla, Pandora, Proteus Digital Health's "smart pill," the Apple Watch and the Polo Tech Shirt notwithstanding, this world of pervasively interconnected services and solutions remains in its earliest stages. And yet, as far as the brand experience goes for these companies and others, it is beginning to create meaningful differentiation that is shaping consumer expectations with each new day.
When Tesla recently faced a recall nearly 30,000 Model S cars because of overheating issues with their wall chargers, the company was able to fix the issue by simply update the software in each care remotely, eliminating the problem without owners needing to go to their dealerships. What have other car brands have to compete with that?
While not quite proactively ordering new supplies, Amazon's Dash devices, WalMart's Hiku roll out this week, and Red Tomato Pizza's refrigerator magnets mean all you have to do is push a button or swipe an empty container to have laundry detergent, groceries (or piping hot Pepperoni Pizza) heading your way, without ever having to take out your mobile phone, activate an app and enter an order.
Netflix even recently released DIY instructions for building a push button that dims your lights, orders food, silences the phone and fires up Netflix queue.
Factor in product innovations—such as the Nike+ Running System (which runners found so compelling that the brand's already enviable share of the running shoe category skyrocketed from 48% to 61% in its first 36 months); Prada's continuing refinement of retail technologies (which identify what garments you pick up and instantly showcase runway video and accessories on the nearest store display); or new Johnnie Walker bottles that let you create personalized gifting experiences, and interact with brand promotions, using your mobile phone—and it's easy to see that brands that leverage IoT technologies stand to benefit mightily while those that don't may fall evermore behind.
Yet even big winners will need to tread carefully.
LIFE AS A POP-UP AD?
Even back in 2005, I warned that interconnected everything means you can run, but never truly hide.
Or, as techno-anthropologist Howard Rheingold tells me in the book, "A world in which you are connected infinitely is a world in which you are surveilled infinitely."
Yes, online ads and street side billboards that call out to you on a first name basis, offering exactly what you're looking for—even before you realize you're looking for it—will have their place. Much of this will seem quite magical—at rightly so. But brands and media partners must be careful to resist the temptation to personalize pitches to the point of creeping consumers out.
Or putting them in danger.
One need not look beyond recent news reports on automobile software systems being hacked from afar to understand personal information is not the only thing put at potential risk in this interconnected world.
As I write in the book, as marketers (and as consumers), you and I will face decisions our predecessors could never imagine about what is acceptable—perhaps even moral—when anything and everything is possible.
As brands we exist to serve our customers and their needs, not the other way around.
Ultimately, that may mean recognizing that consumers should be able to control how "smart" they want their "smart products"—and advertising aimed at selling them those products—to be.
Perhaps they even need control over deciding which "Things" (and the associated data) that they want to be part of this "Internet of" —to better serve them, in the ways they want to be served—even if that sometimes means less, instead of more, of what we hope to sell to them. Even while making what we do sell them more profitable.
The brands that get this balance just right will not only attract consumers. They'll gain their loyalty and their trust.
Perhaps that's where the true power of the IoT is waiting to be found.
READ MORE FROM THE '2015 MOBILE MARKETING PREDICTIONS—FROM 2005' SERIES:
Two years before the launch of Apple's iPhone, my book BRANDING UNBOUND ventured forward to explore the future of advertising, sales and the brand experience in the mobile age.
Excerpted in ADWEEK, the book generated a lot of attention for envisioning a world of games, music, video, shopping and more via the device in the hands of virtually every man, woman and child.
Looking back now, it's fun to see what I got right—and where I went laughably wrong.
SHOPPING FOR INSIGHTS FROM THE MOBILE FRONTIER
I recently found myself chuckling about how I predicted Apple would indeed create a mobile phone, and by 2010 potentially go onto become a MVNO - a mobile virtual network operator - piggybacking on say, AT&T's network to offer its own branded Apple mobile service.
Hey, playing marketing futurist isn't a certain proposition.
But long before you could name the topic and rest assured that "yes, there's an app for that," I wrote about the potential for m-wallets that enable you to purchase goods in physical world stores and have it charged to a prepaid account, a credit card, or as a debit on your phone bill. And I talked about how one day, we would walk into stores, scan product tags to place a purchase, and then simply walk out the door without ever digging for cash, swiping a card, writing a check—or ever again standing in line.
To be fair, a lot of this was already in its early stages in other countries and only seemed impossible (or improbable) in the US because of a lack of standards and interoperable mobile networks. But that day did indeed come, even if some of these capabilities are still in their early stages.
Looking ahead, I also write about how by 2015, services deployed over mobile networks will wake you up in the morning; deliver email; enable you to schedule and reschedule your day based on real-time traffic patterns, travel plans, unexpected meetings, and more. You'll buy plane tickets on the go. You'll call up news, entertainment, and shopping content—anywhere, anytime. And everyday consumers will gravitate toward solutions "that make their lives easier and help them do the things they already do easier and faster, whether it's staying in touch with friends, capturing life's moments, listening to music, or playing games."
For marketers, this would mean location-enabled, or place-based, personalized advertising that calls up "relevant offers based on personal buying behavior"—in-store or on the go.
To be sure, much of what I write about has yet to be realized—like product innovations such as RFID-like tags on frozen foods that tell the microwave oven how to cook them to perfection, or coffee machines that serve up the perfect brew based on instructions from tags placed on the bean packaging. But it is amazing to look back now at how so much of what seemed fantastic at the time has become part of our everyday lives.
That last part about product innovation is more about the Internet of Things, which I write about extensively in the book. We'll save that topic for a later installment in this series.
In the meantime, you might enjoy reading about what I got right and wrong on wearable technology (let's just say I was bullish on what Google Glass would one day seek to accomplish) and mobile advertising (I predicted the current state of mobile advertising, but thought it would progress to its next, far more powerful stage by now).
One thing is for sure: Here in the last few months of 2015, innovative retailers and pure-play digital competitors are using the mobile channel to actively reshape what it means to shop in the twenty-first century.
Which means if you're not already into mobile-enabled retailing, don't worry.