December 8, 2008
Guy Kawasaki has created a revealing photo essay documenting his tour of Zappos.com’s Las Vegas headquarters. The phenomenally successful online shoe retailer is probably best known for it’s over-the-top cheerful and helpful customer service. It seems that one way it achieves this upbeat customer satisfaction obsession is by keeping it’s employees comfortable and happy - really happy. From the looks of Guy’s pictures, Zappos looks like an office playground the likes of which the world hasn’t seen since the first dot-com bubble.
Greek Cypriot industrialist and heavyweight European contemporary art collector Dakis Joannou has brought together an all star team to create the most unique watercraft on the sea. Named “Guilty”, the 35 meter long yacht is decked out with sleek, artistic interiors by Ivana Porfiri and a pop-art exterior camouflage design by Jeff Koons. This design experiment injects a dose of eccentric fun and innovation into the traditional design language of classic nautical architecture.
[via Life At HOK]
October 31, 2008
Gawker and Gothamist report that New York City is putting their subway advertising program into overdrive. First off are plans to wrap entire subway cars with ads (as graffiti artists did in the early days of the art form). The next public transport-ad scheme involves placing a series of ads inside subway tunnels that will create a rough animation as the car passes by. Also up for grabs are turnstile arms and pretty much any available surface.
Although you would hope that all this surplus cash would mean a reduction in fare (it will cost advertisers $95k a month to do the tunnel animations), I wouldn’t hold my breath. And let’s stay positive about all this. Don’t think of it as more urban spam, think about all these ads as fodder for legions of Poster Boy style artists.
New York City is once again the recipient of more cutting edge advertising technology. The MTA is testing out digital screens that will display ads on the side of city buses. (Hooray! High tech urban spam!) The interesting angle here though, is that the ads will change as the bus moves through different neighborhoods. GPS technology will register when the bus passes into a new area and serve an appropriate ad. Content will also change based on the time of day - think coffee ads in the morning, beer at night.
Signaling strategies tell consumers what to look for. Examples of signaling strategies include celebrity and political endorsements, large scale ad campaigns and bestseller lists. It sends a message to the consumer that “(x) product or service is cool, popular, good, important - others are into it, and I can be too .” It signals its OK.
In Seth Godin’s most recent post, he examines how marketers try to game these signals to their advantage, and how the reality of the perceived popularity may be very different than it seems. He also gives 3 valuable tips on why you need to care about the increasing amount of effort spent gaming the signals.
Once a signaling strategy is seen to be effective, we seek to game it. 25 years ago, driving cross country to go to my first day of work at Spinnaker Software (I was the 30th employee) I drove through Chicago. And I passed a Spinnaker billboard. Wow! This company was going somewhere if they had billboards all over the country. When I got to work in Boston two days later, I discovered that this was the one and only billboard they had in the country, strategically erected on the road to the big CES trade show. They were signaling the buyers of the big stores.
Allstate insurance is testing out a new program, called InSight, that uses online video game tests to identify safe older drivers. Using simple games that measure brain fitness, the company is hoping that gaming proficiency will indicate aptitude with the same skills in real life. One of the games, Jewel Diver: Divided Attention tests subjects ability to track multiple objects at a time. The InSight program plans to offer insurance discounts to drivers over 50 who successfully pass the online tests.
Ars Technica reports:
Allstate is currently piloting a new program which seeks to find out if playing driving video games could make better drivers out of those over 50. If the study shows that it can, the insurance company plans to offer discounts to mature drivers who pass the online tests and the current, single-state pilot would be spread across other states next year. The initial run at the program is taking place in Pennsylvania. Select customers in the state aged 50 to 75 will be brought in to test out the special games as part of a free option in the customers’ current insurance plan. The total number of hours played by this experimental group will be tracked and then accident rates will be compared to a control group that had no contact with the games.
“As Allstate seeks ways to reinvent protection for the consumer, we are taking intelligent risks that are focused on finding new ways to bring value to our customers,” a company spokesperson said in a statement. “This innovative approach to improving driver awareness and reaction time has the potential to significantly reduce accidents. That would make the roads safer—and potentially save lives.”