Sausage Party: The Dancing Hotdog Snapchat Filter (Video)

We didn't see the dancing hotdog on Snapchat until this last weekend, and we've been having fun with it ever since (see this YouTuber's video above to see what it looks like). Simple and subversive at the same time.

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Is 'Amazon Go' the Future of Whole Foods? (Video)

Mobile_amazon_go_rick_mathieson_genwow_generationwow As goes Whole Foods, so goes the future of grocery stores?

A lot has been made of Amazon's recent announcement that it will acquire Whole Foods for a whopping $13.7 billion (insert your own "Whole Paycheck" joke here).

Many  have speculated the brand will continue to operate as it has, with enhanced pre-ordering and home delivery. But Amazon may have something far bigger in mind.

As Business Insider recently pointed out, Amazon released a video back in December on a concept it calls 'Amazon Go'.

Here, shoppers use an Amazon Go app to pre-order items in a virtual cart. When they get to the store, they simply walk in, scan the app at a turnstile, pick up the items they want, and walk out the door, without ever digging for cash, writing a check, swiping a card—or ever standing in line.

Using what Amazon calls "Just Walk Out" technology, Amazon Go leverages "deep learning algorithms, computer vision and sensor fusion" to keep track of what you pick up in-store. It'll even know if you put something back, or picked up additional items, and update your order. Everything's automatically charged to your account when you walk out the door.

It's a fascinating and compelling vision. It's also one shared by many others, of course.

It's been well over a decade since I started chatting with Seth Godin, Tom Nicholson and others about the concept—and how elements of it have already been applied for brands such as Prada and Tesco—as showcased in my books, The On-Demand Brand and Branding Unbound.

What I think is especially elegant about Amazon's concept is that it at least appears to remove the need for things like RFID tags to be applied at the item level, and for readers to be set up throughout the store—something that has so far proven costly and impractical. At least from this video, the technology appears to be completely invisible to the customer. The first Go location opened for Amazon employees in Seattle earlier this year.

It'll be a blast to see how the concept develops, and what role if any Whole Foods ultimately plays in its evolution.

However things play out there, it's hard to imagine some version of this concept is not just the future of Whole Foods or even just the grocery category.

It's the future of retailing itself.

Click to learn more about Amazon Go.

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KLM Audio-Enabled, Location-Aware Luggage Tags Give Travelers Tips About Town (Video)

KLM Airlines is thinking beyond the flight to help visitors to Amsterdam make their way around town.

Its new audio-enabled, location-aware "Care Tag" offers audio tips on things to see and do, based on where you are at any time. What's interesting is it consists of a speaker and an offline GPS module, so there's no telephony or Internet connection required. The voices even come from KLM crew members.

"At KLM we always go the extra mile to give you the best personal service during your flight," the airline says on a special site set up to promote the tags. "And now we are also looking after you during your stay. With the Care Tag, it feels like our crew is always with you to help you around."

Indeed, it's a perfect example of a travel brand using digital, data-based technology to extend the brand experience in a unique and compelling way.

Learn more here.

 

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Win Free Beer with Amstel's 'Snatch' AR Game (Video)

It's like Pokémon Go - with beer.

Dutch beer brand Amstel has teamed up with mobile AR treasure hunt app Snatch to give away 10,000 free pints to people who "snatch" and hold onto their prizes for up to six hours.

Oh, and in addition to the free beer, there are 20 bikes at stake—and three trips to Amsterdam.

They had us at "AR" and "beer," but those will work, too. 

Learn more, here.

 

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AR Demo: Landing Falcon 9 in the Pool (Video)

One of the very cool demos floating around the Interwebs showing off Apple's ARKit AR development solution. Here's how IKEA is putting it into action. What's the plan for your brand?

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Gorillaz App Wins Cannes 2017 Gold Lion with VR, AR Experiences (Video)

Gotta love this app. Though as far as this recap video goes, I'm not sure what's better: The app's performance, or the voice talent's accent. Kudos to all involved.

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Coca-Cola Bottles Feature Removable Wristbands for Music Fests (Video)

Check out this new packaging from Coca-Cola, which comes complete with removable wristbands that offer potential entry to music festivals. Talk about having a Coke and a smile.

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Beatie Wolfe Part of World's First AR-Based Live Streaming Music Event (Video)


First there were the NFC-powered album covers that enabled you to tap your mobile against the jacket and bring up a website featuring one of her singles. Now, Beatie Wolfe has launched a augmented reality live streaming experience promoting her latest album, Raw Space.

So: What's your brand doing with AR?

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To Bot, or Not? Rick Mathieson Talks Chatbots for Emerging Brands

BluebotTo bot, or not—it's suddenly an open question instead of a foregone conclusion.

Chatbots are increasingly an on-again-off-again hot topic among big brands these days—but is the timing right for startups and SMBs to get in on the action?

Once heralded as the new shiny object for marketers, Chatbot hype boomed with the launch of bots from the likes of Taco Bell, H&M, CNN and Unilever

These miniature, AI-enabled apps were instantly seen as transformational. Now, instead of closing Facebook Messenger or Slack and opening up your Lyft app, for instance, you can simply message Lyft and ask for a ride using conversational language.

Last Summer, Facebook had 11,000 chatbots within weeks of launching its bot developer kit. By fall, that figure had hit 30,000.

But now, some are wondering if the rise of the bots was a bit premature.

No, I'm not (just) talking about Microsoft's bot Tay, which famously started spewing racist messages on Twitter within 24 hours of launch. I'm not even talking about pro-Trump chatbots that overwhelmed social media with fake news in the days leading up to the 2016 election.

It's more prosaic than all that: In recent weeks, Facebook announced it would scale back its chatbot efforts after bots were shown to fail 70% of customers' questions and requests.

Instead, Facebook is refocusing its efforts on getting a limited set of questions right and shifting to a persistent menu function that's more akin to browsing a website (or "cards" in bot vernacular) and clicking options instead of trying to have a "conversation."

OrangebotBut while big brands may end up taking a small step back as the technology's underpinnings get worked out, it's not out of the question to ask if this is the time for startups and SMBs to start checking bots out.

So far, smaller companies have been decidedly "wait and see"—over 60% of SMBs have reported being only "somewhat" to "not at all" interested in chatbots or bot-based commerce.

Still, with new DIY chatbot tools for even the least techy among us, now might be a good time to emphasize the "see" part of that equation, if for nothing else than understanding where the technology might go next.

Indeed, that was the topic of a recent segment of the Jim Blasingame Show, where Jim and I talk chatbots. To be clear, Jim's show focuses on SMBs. As you'll hear, this whole chatbot thing may be new territory for this audience.

Check it out here:

Rise of the Bots

Radio Interview with Rick Mathieson: Rise of the Bots

Approx. 4 min, 39 sec


'The Call' - Send Personalized Videos About The Dangers of Driving High (Video)


This is an excellent new personalized video campaign from Drug Free Kids Canada.

Parents can send personalized videos warning against driving while high to their kids. Just as the onscreen character is receiving text messages from their parents wondering where they are, kids receive similar texts from their parents.

It's a great conversation starter, and it joins a long list of brands using it for highly personalized video messages (see The On-Demand Brand for more). But here, it's put into service for a very good cause. Kudos to all involved.

Read more about "The Call That Comes After," here.