Music to Your Inbox!

In an effort to increase increase conversation rates, popular music may soon be making it’s way into your inbox via email marketing campaigns.

DMI Music and Media recently announced a program called Engine 1 that pair majors brands with popular music artists.  The first partner brand is the nutritional supplement maker, Mead Johnson which is testing the program with music from a variety of artists including Bruno Mars. The program aims to leverage music’s emotional impact on people and create brand loyalty.


Here’s a bit on how it works from AdWeek:  

The songs play when recipients click a button within the message. In a preliminary campaign, 75 percent of openers listened to the music, and 43 percent of those that did came back and listened to the music two or more times.

Why I’m Curious:

While this is an interesting idea, I am curious to see how it actually plays out.  Email marketing is very much dependent on getting someone to open the email in the first place. Unless the subject line of the email states that there is music I wonder if anyone will notice (given that they may just delete the email).  Also, given that music rights are so pricey to obtain, I wonder what the ROI will really be when all is said and done.

Making participation the experience, and vice-versa.

I loved Alina’s Coke 007 post today, and it got my mind thinking about digital versus experiential versus interactive and whether there is really a distinction between those categories. The Coke Zero 007 project is a great example of how experiential marketing – whether via digital or otherwise – is becoming more and more important in breaking through the clutter of marketing messages.

On that note, I wanted to share a short inspiring TED Talk I came across a few weeks ago in the hopes of nurturing the importance of the idea of experience in all that we do. Candy Chang’s famous for many public art installations that draw in the idea of people participation; taking something static and turning it into dynamic. Below, she discusses the “Before I Die” project she initiated in her post-Katrina New Orleans neighborhood.

Why I’m Curious

Candy Chang’s work is a delicate balance of analogue and digital worlds, yet manages to find a way to bring forth the notion of experience and participation. While technology continues to evolve in ways of connecting never imagined before, I wonder with each innovation, how do we as marketers connect the dots and create more experience, rather than message? For more of Candy’s experiential work, have a wander on over here:

Doctors Get Their Own Social Network

by Nukte

from Mashable

When Dr. Rafael Lugo posted photos of a rare tumor to iRounds — a social network for doctors — he received immediate feedback from specialists nationwide and ultimately referred his patient to the appropriate doctor for treatment.

“Medicine is very much a team sport,” said Lugo, who is one of the 30,000 doctors currently on iRounds.

The new platform — which launched in February by Doximity, the largest online professional physician network — is being touted as a Twitter for doctors. iRounds gives physicians a community to discuss cases, ask for second opinions and engage in spontaneous dialogue with peers in real time. Furthermore, there is also a newly launched mobile app that makes it even easier for physicians to share information real-time.

The forum is secure under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), so all information is private and confidential, and only verified Doximity physicians and medical students are granted access.

Meanwhile, physicians can learn more about who they are interacting with on the site by accessing their profile to check credibility.

“At a glance, you can see any particular physicians’ publications, specializations, board certifications, and other qualifications, which enhances the credibility of they opinions,” New York-based nephrologist and internal medicine doctor Joshua Schwimmer told Mashable. “As with anything in medicine, you consult multiple resources and don’t trust a single source fully, so iRounds allows you to interact with multiple physicians in multiple specialties and potentially receive a wide range of opinions. The debates are always instructive.”

Why Am I Curious?

This is very interesting to me because to most people social media is just about finding cute cat videos and sharing their opinions on the latest movie they have seen. Many do not realize the large scale implications. However, as more niche but literally life-altering applications are developed such as iRounds, the power and true utility of social media will become increasingly more evident in our lives in really fundamental ways. It is not even too far-fetched to believe that a platform such as this not only can lead to collaborations that would otherwise not happen, lead to discoveries and save lives.

Run, Reykjavík, Run!

I’ve been quite obsessed with Iceland for the past two years. I don’t get it either. Yeah, Bjork is great, and whomever is running their social media deserves a big ol’ prize (have you been to Iceland Wants to be Your Friend? GO, click!) but there’s something else about this country that drives me wild. I haven’t been yet, but you bet I will soon. I also happen to loooove running. Even in this mad-crazy heat. So in honor of the third day of record heat in Chicago, I bring you news of a marathon in Iceland. Yes. You read that right.

Reykjavík Runs is a “social media experiment” that acknowledges marathons are more than just the running itself; there’s far more happening below the surface of the event. Via 42 steps spread across the internet, Reykjavík Runs utilizes several different social platforms to involve the general public and provide a behind-the-scenes look into the Reykjavík marathon. Videos show and explain landmarks in the race, music is provided via Soundcloud, and key players in the marathon are showcased. A new step is released each day, with social sharing components seamlessly built in. Who knows what’s next?

We’re only 3 steps in, but I’m excited to see where the run takes me. Check out the social presence for this project at the following: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Vimeo.

Why I’m Curious

This project is run by Íslandsbanki, the main sponsor of the Reykjavík Marathon, yet manages to maintain the same tone and voice as Iceland’s other brand presences across digital (like Iceland Wants to be Your Friend). It also explains why this effort isn’t quite cross-promoted on Iceland’s social channels.

Any runner will tell you: running races goes beyond just the runner. It’s about the crowd, the experience, the atmosphere. This idea is smart and works on this level, but also works on the level of promoting Iceland as a welcoming, fun country to visit. The fanbase is small right now, but I imagine there isn’t much paid media behind the effort. It’s an innovative way to spark interest about the event and the country in a cluttered social landscape.

Turn any screen with a browser into a smart TV

Clik lets users control any screen with a web browser using their smartphone. The new platform will let developers create apps for viewing videos, music, photos or games on different screens. They have released a free iPhone and Android app to show its potential, which can quickly push YouTube videos from your smartphone to your computer or smart TV so you can watch them on a bigger screen. The app also acts like a remote control, letting you pause, fast forward and adjust the volume.

– Judy

Why I’m curious:

I think its interesting to put control in hands of the users and I like that this is a new platform to share content. For example, Clik lets multiple people scan the QR code for a single screen to control it, allowing groups of people to share content from different smartphones.

Social media game to track terrorists

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Prague are sponsoring a social media gaming contest to test ways social media and open source data can be used to track terrorists and locate missing children.

Tag Challenge, the social media game, will be played by people in Washington D.C., New York City, London, Stockholm, Sweden and Bratislava, Slovakia on March 31.

Here’s how the game works . Profiles and mugshots of five suspects in each city will be posted on Tag Challenge. Players will have an entire day to locate the suspects in a public area of their city. The suspects will be wearing a t-shirt with the Tag Challenge logo. Suspects are not real-life crime suspects. The first player to upload photos of each of the five suspects to the Tag Challenge website will win $5,000.

Players can team up with other players, but only one person will be rewarded the cash prize. Although funded by the State Department, the contest page says the game is “not associated with any law enforcement agency, and the contest is not part of any law enforcement effort.” Graduate students from six countries who participated in social media and security conferences organized the game out of curiosity and for fun.

The game will offer government officials insight to “whether and how social media can be used to accomplish a realistic, time-sensitive, international law enforcement goal,” the Tag Challenge website says. “Results, strategies, and any data derived from the event will be made public after its conclusion.”


Why I’m Curious:

I think the idea of the government starting to tap into gamification is interesting. However, it is a little scary that this is being used to provide government officials insight into if social media should be an outlet for time-sensitive, realistic law enforcement. It kind of adds a whole new layer to the idea of Big Brother is watching.

Chevy Game Time app

It’s an exciting time to be in digital, because marketers are finally catching up to consumer behavior and adapting accordingly. We’ve not quite hit the tipping point yet, but with the Super Bowl just weeks away, perhaps critical mass isn’t that far behind.

In turn, I wanted to raise attention around an app that Chevy is launching for the Super Bowl: Game Time. Planned for a release this coming Sunday (during the NFC Championship game), the app will contain trivia and poll questions with prizes and sweeps chances to those who answer correctly. The app will be available on iTunes, Android and

Why I’m Curious

Chevy’s taken the lead on interpreting the insight that people play with their digital devices while watching TV, especially during commercials and downtime in the action. It’s a great idea, but I can’t help but wonder: why does this need to be an app? Couldn’t it just live on via social? Do you think they could’ve done better in closing the loop?

3D Projection Mapping Multiplayer Game

EELS is an R&D project developed at B-Reel London. It uses combines various technologies, including projection mapping, to create a virtual multiplayer game projected on a physical installation. Players would use their phones to control an “eel” on the installation and try to outlast other players.

People could participate by using their mobile devices, using an HTML5 interface to provide direct control over their EEL.

Why I’m Curious:
This game is a great example of bringing virtual world and real world together. Plus projection mapping is really cool because you can put video of anything almost anywhere. There have been examples of projection mapping interacting with the physical space, but to date this is the first example I’ve seen that allows people to actually interact with the projection.

In this example, mobile is being used as the controller for the experience. It demonstrates another way that mobile can be used to interact with a physical space and with others.

Veterans Day… the Google way.

Google’s been awfully busy as of late (check out their new YouTube politics page, launched in anticipation of the debates and parodies sure to come in 2012), but since it is Veterans Day, I wanted to take a moment to point out another new launch today: Google for Veterans.

GFV offers peer and family support for veterans to not only ease the transition to civilian life, but maintain connections to military past, as well. Included are a resume builder, G+ integration to reconnect veterans with each other (via hangouts and all other G+ capabilities), as well as a “tour builder.” The tour builder launch is TBD, but will enable vets to recreate their tours of duty within a 3-d model built with Google satellite maps. Pretty neat.

Official announcement can be found here.

Why I’m Curious

Google didn’t have to do this. They’re not getting paid for it, and one might assume this is something the VA would facilitate. But there are two truths: the VA is financially strapped, and veterans are in sore need of ways to connect with each other and their families. One more truth: Google has the technology and means of facilitation. Veterans and active services already connect on Facebook, but Google helps ease the transition into civilian life by acknowledging the past and moving forward. And it’s great to see large forces combine for good. It only makes sense to bring the VFW to the digital space. I’ll be interested to keep an eye on how adoption progresses, and how the VA and military might encourage use.

Retail Store Asks The Internet To Rob It

To promote their home cinema solutions, Pause Swedish electronics retailer created a movie trailer called Heist. The trailer invites viewers to break in to their stores and steal an LED television worth $5,700 dollars.

On November 10th after the store’s closing, online viewers will be tasked with deactivating the store’s security system and actually break in. But it’s not a one-burglar job–you’ll need to tag team with a buddy in order to crack the code.

In order to enter the store, and, as copywriter Joakim Labraaten puts it, make some “Tom Cruise-moves,” you’ll need the assistance of a partner at a computer to help you shut the security system down and crack codes along the way. The contest begins November 10th, after Pause shuts down for the evening, and then ends when an LED television set is finally removed from the store.

But even those who don’t get away with a new set enjoy some benefits. Those who crack the door code get a 10% discount off Pause products, those who get past the motion detector get 20% off and if you actually make it into the showroom with the TV, you get a 30% markdown off goods.


Why I’m Curious:

By turning their retail environment in to an entertainment experience, Pause is able to promote their specialty- home entertainment- and provide value to viewers. This way, it connect the online world with their physical store.

It accurately targets their tech-loving target by giving them a challenge that appeals to their unique interest- hacking- and encourages sharing by making the heist a team effort. Finally, it directly rewards all the people who decide to engage with the heist through discounts or an actual physical good.

A Crowdsourced and Literal Car Launch

Chevy launched their new compact car, the Sonic, by literally “launching”
it. The live stunt involved hoisting a Chevy Sonic to the top of a 100 ft tower in LA. Streaming live at Let’, users could ‘click’ to push the Sonic closer to the edge. The car moved slowly towards the edge on a gear system that related to the number of clicks generated from viewers interacting with the stunt on the ‘Let’s Do This‘ website.

After 2.4 million clicks, the vehicle was pushed off the platform and performed a bungee jump, creating a social media-powered bungee jumping car.

The manual launch was part of “Let’s Do This,”— a multi-phased advertising campaign that includes a “Let’s Do This” social scavenger hunt game that will live online and in mobile.

Why I’m Curious:

By making a fun and social stunt, Chevy was able to generate buzz that also created opportunity for sharing. The user-driven experience encouraged further participation as viewers watched to see their clicks add up with others and the car move in real-time.

The Chevy launch created a brand-centric stunt that encouraged deep interaction with a product. And because this stunt was part of a greater advertising campaign, they will hopefully be able to sustain the momentum of this participation in the future.

Company for Christy

– Sarah

As part of their internships, participants in BBH’s Barn were tasked to “do something good, famously.” After zeroing in on kidney disease, the interns locked into kidney donation, and finally dialysis. In an effort to ease the monotony of dialysis, they chose just one person for whom they would provide distraction. Enter Company for Christy.

There’s a social component, too, with coverage on FacebookTwitter, and YouTube.

Why I’m Curious

I’ve been in many meetings where throwing in a charity as a way to spark brand adoption somehow makes its way through a brainstorm. I don’t object, but I will say this: it needs to be rooted in heart-felt compassion, be relevant (to the brand and product) and mean something. In this case, the Barn kids (I say kids colloquially, FYI) honed in on a key insight: dialysis is a lengthy and boring process. Diversion is welcome. They did it in a way that was inclusive and thoughtful and got me thinking… how could Google Plus Hangouts factor in to the livestream? How else can this program be extended?

Faces. Creepy faces (using open source frameworks, naturally).

– Sarah

Brought to you by the creepy department (and perhaps, to get you in the Halloween spirit), Arturo Castro and Kyle McDonald joined forces in using open-source frameworks to make their faces, well, someone else’s face. Arturo’s is more of a “replacement” face:

while Kyle’s is more of a “blended” face:

Why I’m Curious

Have I mentioned I’m creeped out? Okay, that aside, the code for this is free! and shared on It’s awesome to peek behind the curtain (if you will) and see developers play with technology, and build upon the work of others. This also continues to build support for open source capabilities, in the sense that it serves part of the purpose of the internet as a playground for testing, playing, and ultimately, improving technology.


– Sarah

This app is not out yet. No, but it will be, soon.

I’m an avid runner. And if you’re like me, sometimes, running can get boring. The fartleks just aren’t doing it anymore, music is getting tired, and a distraction is in order. Enter Zombies, Run!, a immersive running app under development for both iOS and Android devices. In Zombies, Run!, developers Six to Start and writer Naomi Alderman plan to create an experience where “you help rebuild civilisation after a zombie apocalypse. By going out and running in the real world, you can collect medicine, ammo, batteries, and spare parts that you can use to build up and expand your base – all while getting orders, clues, and story through your headphones.”

Why I’m Curious

Goodness, gamification is everywhere, isn’t it? It always has been around, but now it has a fancy buzzword title which, I guess, adds some validity to its existence. But let’s just say this is gamification done right. There’s a real story line planned and an actual experience that only takes you, your device, and your running shoes. Simple. Smart. You can listen to your own music, and integration with RunKeeper is planned, so your calories burned, distance ran and speed are all recorded as you go, so playing doesn’t interfere with your fitness.

This project was originally launched on Kickstarter, and reached $28,374 of its $12,500. Yes, you read that right. The creators are taking suggestions from fans, and I love that someone took their passions (running, development) and turned it into something awesome. I’m so excited and the game isn’t even created yet! But it all goes to plan, you bet I will be one of the first people to download this game when it launches.

Free jazz!

– Sarah

Literally and figuratively.

This has been wandering around the internet for a while, and I’ve kept it bookmarked for doldrum days when the interweb lets me down on the Curious end. And here we are.

Click on through to the site, which grabs free jazz clips from YouTube and mashes them into one large feed, thus re-creating a new free jazz via compiled free jazz clips.

Confused yet? It’ll help if you click through. Go on, do it. It might take a moment to load. But it’s worth it.

Why I’m Curious

I like literal and figurative interpretations of things, and this one does the trick. A neat way to pull together something that already exists (clips on YouTube) and repurposing in an interesting way. Way to go, internet!

Quirky & Bed Bath, and Beyond Collaboration

– Sarah

We’ve all had ideas on how to make a product better. More efficient. Less frustrating. More user-friendly. But where do you start? How can you  make a difference?

Quirky just might have an answer.

Quirky, a product subsidiary of BB&B, allows for anyone to submit a new idea for BB&B to actually make. Cost of entry is $10 per random design, and free for particularly commissioned products (this month is an outdoor gardening product), which allows the community to vote on what’s made next. The selected submission is then vetted through Quirky’s staff for scoring in 3 areas: design potential, marketing potential, and viability. If selected, Quirky’s designers and engineers get to work in making the design a reality. And even better, the inventor gets a share of the profit from the completed design’s sales.

A little video to help explain:

But wait, there’s more. Influence. Influence is calculated via “real-time measure of your contributions to a product.” By becoming a Quirky influencer, you can also earn cash by promoting Quirky products to your friends via social sales (yes, social currency is at play here). And if you support or influence an idea during stages of development, you’ll get paid for your contributions, too.

Oh, and Quirky is now the subject of a TV show on Sundance:

Why I’m curious

Crowd-sourcing continues to mutate in many ways, some good, and some bad. In this case, it seems like a great way to open up design and development to people who may or may not come from traditional product design or engineering backgrounds. There is an inherent risk of a submitted design not being selected, and later copied by someone (anyone) else, but that’s the risk you take. And if you just like or want to have influence in refining an idea, the profit model works in your favor, too. The profit sharing payout is a solid reward for sharing your ideas (although, I can’t speak to whether or not it’s truly a decent payout in the end) – some people have made as much as over $39,000 in profit!

Wiki wiki wiki wha? Google+

– Sarah

Google+ blah blah social networks blah blah I GOT AN INVITE! Now, how the heck do I use this thing?

In spirit of the collaborative nature of, well, the internet and Google+, a Tips and Tricks wiki recently sprung up. It’s in Google Docs, natch, and is in the process of offering translations in German, Russian and Chinese. Details include tips for getting started, terminology, an active discussion group, and several “how-tos.”

Why I’m Curious

This tester here hasn’t been able to add anything, because too many people have been trying to edit it at once. But that’s the great thing about this wiki – anyone can add to it! As Plus navigates through beta, inevitably, the code whiz or non-tech person will stumble upon something cool and want to share it. A tidy document that ties it all together can only improve the beta experience. And if I were Google, I’d pay close attention to topics covered, as they may help with further product innovation down the road. Finally, the fact that such a collaborative document exists speaks to the collaborative nature of Plus users speaks for both the product and its users themselves.

(Anyone catch that Newcleus reference in the title?)

New York Writes Itself

– Sarah


New York Writes Itself is a story-telling platform that bills itself as “a production by the people of New York.” Based on the idea that NY is an ever-changing story, the site invites citizens of the city to register as “scribes.” Scribes are then asked to record conversations and observations about the city; these written records will then become part of the larger “script,” which will in turn be used to inform future productions, be it videos, art installations, posters, etc.

The script is available to anyone for viewing, and can be sorted by neighborhood and category (characters, quotes, scenes) and filtered by date and popularity. Each week, a celebrated New Yorker (dubbed the Chairman) will cull through submissions and present some of the more interesting ones; a group of art and literary talents will select submissions for production.

This collection of stories is being run by Leo Burnett, while it is not currently tied to any brands or clients of the agency.

Why I’m Curious

Generally speaking, NYWI has a lot of potential as an experiment in crowd-sourcing. And it marks a continuing trend in the ad world: content curation. We’re no longer in the business of marketing communication, but curating content that may or may not inspire or influence. Or maybe it’s the same thing, just semantics. Either way, it’s near-certain that this project will be of interest to brands, and LB will need to be able to market it as such. It will be interesting to see how the NYWI experiment plays out.


Project Neon & Kickstarter: bringing a personal passion to life

– Sarah

Project Neon is a mobile app that celebrates the unique, oft-overlooked art of neon signs. Wait, well, let me step back. Project Neon will be a mobile app that maps over 100 of NY’s best neon signs with photos and descriptions, allowing people with a similar obsession to track these signs in the city. While I could go on describing, why not let the video do the talking for me?*

Project Neon app images

You see, Project Neon was created by just one person, with a passion for neon signs, who had a small idea. Project Neon creator Kirsten Hively did the groundwork: photographing the signs, mapping them out, designing the app, but needed a little help in getting the project off the ground. Enter Kickstarter, where she was able to ask for funding and award donators with small gifts for their support.

*I would love to embed the video, but WordPress and iFrame aren’t friendly, and I’ve overloaded on code with no success this morning.

Why I’m Curious

Aside from my own personal admiration of neon signs and general ephemera, I wanted to step outside the world of marketing for a moment to acknowledge something pretty wonderful happening. Kickstarter is nothing new, but it is fast becoming the alternative to large-scale VCs for the average person. It’s an opportunity to take a passion and make it real. And when compared to the example I shared last week, it’s an example of the wonderful world of the internet doing good and making dreams possible. And in the case of Project Neon, well, the project was funded!

Excuse me for moment while my heart swells with pride. Okay, you can go on now.

A Vending Machine that Lets You Gift Drinks to Friends Via Social Media


PepsiCo’s Social Vending Machine lets users send free soda to their friends. To do so, users select a beverage and enter the recipient’s name, mobile number and personalized text message with a code redeemable at another vending machine.

Consumers can personalize the message with a short video recorded by the machine. There’s also an option to send a free beverage to a stranger.

Why I’m Interested:

In a world of cheap, fast and always on Wi-Fi, an unconnected device is unusual. Technology is helping brands move from messaging to digitally-enabled, increasingly live, real-world experiences. From mobile phones to cars, and subway tickets—now is the time for vending machines.

This idea represents an evolution in the possibilities for digital sharing/physical getting, low cost e-commerce transactions, etc.

Coming soon, a Facebook or Twitter tie-in.  Stay tuned.