Digital technology is increasingly being perceived as toxic, with the potential to corrupt the purity of our minds and souls. According to recent OFCOM research, 15m of us undertook a ‘digital detox’ last year, owing weight to a growing anti-digital movement. Recently we’ve seen a novel manifestation of this ‘digital detox’ movement: a romanticising of the time of Genesis. A time encapsulated by naïve innocence, raw foods, and tools without push notifications. Here are three of the favourite examples we’ve seen:
Eden on Channel 4
Directly referencing the Biblical utopia, Eden sees twenty young people stranded in a remote corner of Scotland. Tasked with building a society from scratch, Eden’s inhabitants all talk of wanting to forgo their high pressure jobs and always-connected lives in pursuit of a more primal existence. They build their shelters and grow (or kill) their food. Despite the physical hardship, the Adams and Eves constantly remind the audience about how the experience is distilling the human condition down to its purest form.
When London’s first nudist restaurant opened at the start of summer, it was tempting to damn it with faint praise as a Time Out enthusiast’s latest novelty haunt. Diners leave everything in lockers: servers wear tactically placed fig leaves. People are encouraged not to feel abashed: embarrassment is a modern day affliction. A feeling of liberation certainly follows the initial shock. Once modern clothes and gadgets are removed, we are reduced to a state no different from God’s garden.
London Foraging Courses
These courses have proved highly popular over the last couple of years, with people coming from far and wide to learn what it takes to forage successfully. The course covers over 20 wild food plants and provides tips on how to identify, cook and prepare them.
Why is this interesting?
At the same time as many brands race to become further integrated with our digital lives, more people are jumping on to the digital detox movement. We think some brands can build meaningful relationships with people based on anti-digital positions as a growing desire for ‘purer’ non-digital experiences begins to become an aspiration.
With a fresh approach Uber’s most recent campaign has caught out attention. The days in which Uber stood as a mode of luxury transport are long gone, and the campaign marks a shift in the company’s tone.
“Get there with Uber” has been distributed across the country and features real life Uber users talking about their everyday Uber stories. This ranges from busy mums talking about their shopping trips to entrepreneurs discussing how Uber has helped them with their businesses. The brand has also published a production video on their YouTube site to highlight just how real these people are.
Uber has changed direction from wanting to provide people with the chauffeur experience, to focusing on giving them the freedom to do what they want every day. As Uber’s take on luxury always felt slightly dated, we think this move is culturally on point and more reflective of how people actually use the brand.
Whether it’s as simple as helping people get home from nights out, or enabling them to take bigger steps like move house, Uber is making it easier for people to do the things that matter to them. Their new campaign highlights and celebrates this fact, showing they appreciate what is most important to the everyday Uber user.
It’s been a long time coming but we are starting to see a cultural backlash against the somewhat unsustainable Clean Eating movement, which main focus is deprivation and control. There has been a revolution in health where food is starting to be part of self-care and wellbeing. It is not about the calories but the flavour and the enjoyment you get from food. Food has become part of a holistic lifestyle where it is fuel for the mind, body and soul. This new manifesto against clean eating seems to move the health debate forward into a new conversation that is exciting and refreshing. Let’s have a look at some of the things that are leading this movement:
Ruby Tandoh: The long awaited second cookbook by former Great British Bake Off winner Ruby Tandoh is titled Flavour: Eat What You Love, and includes recipes that put your appetite first. Flavour encourages readers to follow their cravings and go wherever their appetite takes them. It is a celebration of the joy of cooking and eating. Ruby has recently written for Vice about the danger of the Clean Eating craze and how damaging it is for peoples’ bodies.
#SelfcareSaturdays: Bloggers have started to promote #selfcaresaturdays which encourages wellbeing by giving their followers a simple self-care idea to try each weekend, something that makes them feel special, and look after their bodies. It is about having one day each week when you look after you. This movement is trying to subvert the wellbeing paradigm to one that is about feeling good and ready to face the world rather than trying to control it.
Eat Like A Girl: This London food blogger loves to travel and find exciting recipes. Her blog encourages women to eat the food that they love – real food, delicious food, food that is packed with flavour. The recipes are built for cosy home cooking that will cheer your lunch box and your evenings rather than make you feel bad for eating.
Why this is interesting:
This is an interesting movement in the health conversation – it was getting pretty stale. In fact this approach to health and food feels much more nuanced – thinking about food not just pragmatically as a calorie, but at an emotional level. It is changing the meaning of health and food and the way in which they are being communicated to people. Brands need to take note of this and monitor the ever changing health conversation closely, in order to be on top of the evolution of heath food and how people interact with it.
More and more companies are looking to use technology that replicates the workings of the human brain in order to improve their customer experience. Whilst this has been prevalent for some years now, through the personal assistants on smartphones such as Apple’s Siri and Google Now, a number of brands are creating technology that is edging increasingly closer to resembling human carbon copies.
The recently opened Henn-na Hotel in Japan is staffed by 10 humanoids developed by a company called Kokoro, the robots can check in new guests, carry their luggage and even clean their rooms, all the while being polite and hospitable. The robots themselves look like real humans; they can speak Japanese, Chinese, Korean and English and alter their tone and body language based on human requests.
This Japanese bank has become the first in the world to use robots in its branches with the introduction of NAO, a humanoid that had been designed to improve service for customers. The robot was developed by the Paris based company Aldebaran Robotics SA and it can even understand emotion by reading customers’ facial expressions and the tone of their voice.
Self-driving taxis are definitely on the horizon as more and more major players announce plans to develop their own auto pilot models. Just last week google confirmed they are developing a self-driving car they hope will be able to compete with Uber. Uber themselves have also started work on a self-driving project, recently hiring 50 staff from Carnegie Mellon University to work on it.
Why this is interesting…
The argument for humanoids and chatbots within businesses is strong. They are cost effective and can provide a higher, more efficient level of customer service. However, there are some who are of the opinion that the human mind is far too complex and emotional to try and replicate. Last week saw the first person to be killed behind the wheel of a Tesla autopilot car, suggesting the debate is going to only heighten moving into the future.
We’ve seen more and more brands recently become more provocative and unafraid to speak their mind. During the referendum period we have seen brands reminding people to register to vote – the likes of Uber and Tinder constantly encouraged their millennial following to get involved. But few brands have actually stood up and stated who they would vote for. Over the past few days – on the run up to today’s vote – some brands have begun to take a stand and voice their political opinions. For many of these brands it is part of their brand personality to be politically charged and take a bold stance. Let’s have a look at some of the brands that have been telling us what they really think.
House of Hackney have just posted their view on Instagram, stating “If you’re IN say you’re in. We love our European family and want to stay part of it. #eureferendum #europe #eu #bremain”. This is a bold move from an interior design company; however as a brand they stand have a rebellious and creative streak that shines through in this clever move.
We could have predicted that the brand Lush would state their view on the vote due to their activist heart. They have, however, used a clever angle stating “Vote remain for animals” which really aligns with their campaign for animal rights.
Both the boss himself, Richard Branson, and his Virgin brand have strongly petitioned for the UK to stay in. The brand has a whole page on their website dedicated to explaining the argument to remain in. It is interesting to see both a famous face and a brand making a stand.
This political statement says a lot about both the essence of the brand, and the type of people that follow them. It really exemplifies how these brands are reaching out beyond their product or service to show what they are about. All of the above brands are known for their unique, expressive and powerful views, and their followers have bought into that. Could it be that these brands are very aware of their demographic, or that it is actually much safer to talk about the referendum than openly discuss party politics? We think it’s refreshing to see brands be bold, and unafraid of showing what they genuinely believe in.
Knowing your temperament can transform your life, it can help you understand why you do or don’t feel comfortable in certain situations and it can help ensure your success in the future. Self-help books have been talking about this for years but there has been a recent resurgence in individuals wanting to understand their minds and mentalities better. We’ve noticed brands start to engage with this topic by positioning themselves as either introverts or extroverts:
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
Susan Cain shows how the brain chemistry of introverts and extroverts differs, and how society misunderstands and undervalues introverts. She explores the role in which introverts can play in the world and also how introverts and extroverts work best together.
Listerine: Study of Bold
Listerine conducted some research on their consumers called the “Study of Bold”. They deduced that people who use Listerine are more likely to do bold things. They celebrate the extrovert and associate their brand chiefly with them, somewhat alienating their counterparts.
Axe: Bring the Quiet
Axe claim that the world is getting louder. Their new fragrance for men is aimed at making an impression without going over the top. It embraces the understated introvert and completely rejects their once loud and excessive “lad” following. Their website subscribes a daily dose of simple and original music for their introverts.
Why this is interesting….
With the rise of self-help books and purposeful mindfulness we are becoming ever more conscious of what makes us unique and by engaging with the introvert/extrovert debate, brands are establishing themselves as part of this world. However they should take caution not to take too much of a polarizing stance as they may risk alienating those that do not associate themselves with what they stand for.
Each year brings with it a decline in newspaper sales and a decline in TV news viewership, but ‘news’ as a type of content has never been more sought out. As we increasingly move away from the printed page to the screen, and simultaneously from television to mobile, the way in which the news is packaged is changing too to adapt. Here are a few of the media organisations that are paving the way when it comes to innovative methods of communicating the news:
VICE News – Gonzo journalism
VICE is known for its irreverent, say-it-like-it-is style, both in terms of what they write about and how they write it. When they launched VICE News, they lost none of their trademark style, speaking about complex and serious issues in a jargon free manner. VICE News’ style reads almost like a direct affront to the traditional objective reporting styles employed by almost all ‘big’ news outlets.
Snapchat – News from the front line
Snapchat LIVE Stories are being well utilised to cover the US Presidential Election race. The team’s internal news team curate the thousands of videos uploaded from the front line before compiling them into strings of news content. The ubiquity of Snapchat’s citizen journalists gives the company access to the heart of stories, whether that’s at the front line of a candidate’s Q&A session or behind closed doors at a fund raiser. Where traditional news companies present an overly refined and official view of the news, Snapchat presents the rough and ready real story.
BuzzFeed – Data driven news
Early this year, Buzzfeed and the BBC made an accusation that match fixing at the top end of men’s tennis had been rife for years. They didn’t have a whistle-blower’s testimony or receive some leaked documents. Instead, they built an algorithm and analysed data from 26,000 matches from the past six years before overlaying it with publicly available betting data from the world’s most popular betting shops. Buzzfeed’s Data Science mine vast data sets and create algorithms to find out news stories that would otherwise be hidden forever. Data sources don’t change their story or hold back the truth.
Why this is interesting…
As new forms of news communications become more popular, traditional news brands are starting to feel increasingly outdated. Whilst news media has always been a lucrative space for brands to place their advertising, they will need to adapt too to make the most of the new innovations that are shaking up the category.