Lisbon Repositions Tram Wires as Functional Art

For some, wires draped across urban environments are purely unattractive clutter. For others, they’re art. Veering in the more optimistic direction, the city of Lisbon recently turned its web of tram wires into a tastefully interactive experience. Here’s how it worked.

Why I’m Curious

The success of this campaign is heavily grounded in a less-than-obvious insight: the cross-sections of tram wires appear to spell out letters. And when one pieces those letters together, a typeface is created that inspires adventures around the city.

Such an insight would seem to have been bred out of time spent exploring unique traits of Lisbon. Not just listing off obvious attractions, but really looking at aspects of the city that span the entire environment in order to create a tourism-inducing experience outside of cliche destinations.

For us, the takeaway reminds me of a saying creatives often coin: “first idea.” First ideas are those that materialize in an initial brainstorm. At first they seem amazing – brilliant even – but 24 hours later they’re not quite as shiny as initially perceived.

In the case of this work, the agency clearly avoided the dreaded “first idea” creative approach. Now it’s our turn to always do the same.



BA taps the Twittersphere to launch the Dreamliner

British Airways is marking the launch of its Dreamliner fleet by running a competition today that pits the state-of-the-art aircraft against a virtual plane, the ‘Tweetliner’.

BA race

The competition is a live race between the virtual Twitter plane and an active BA A380 flight from London to Los Angeles.  The Tweetliner is powered by #racetheplane tweets, and anyone who uses the hash tag will be entered to win 1 of 5 free flights from LHR –> LAX.  The live race can be tracked here:

Why I’m Curious

This is a simple and extremely low cost way to promote BA’s Dreamliner. I’m curious whether its simplicity will hurt it, to some extent, since the execution itself isn’t anything new.  That said, why not tweet for the chance to win a trip?!  At the moment the contest has been running for 2 hours, according to the site, and there have been limited tweets (under 20 today alone, and at least 1/3 are from BBH, who is running the promo).  It was originally meant to fly from London to Toronto on a Boeing 787 but seems to have switched at the last minute to London to Los Angeles on an Airbus A380.


Airbnb launches crowdsourced ‘Hollywood & Vines’ project

Vacation rental site Airbnb has launched “Hollywood and Vines,” a campaign asking consumers to contribute six-second clips, the best of which will be included in a short film about travel and adventure.

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From August 22 to August 25, Airbnb will deliver “shot instructions” via Twitter at @airbnb. Participants can pick a shot (eg. Fly a paper plane) and shoot a Vine, then share them via #AirbnbHV. The final Vines will be collected and the best ones will be edited into a longer film, to be aired on television on the Sundance Channel (among others). Those whose Vines appear in the film will get a $100 credit for an Airbnb stay. – via CreativityOnline

Why I’m Curious

This is a neat execution from Airbnb. The promotion speaks to millennial travelers and emphasizes Airbnb as a travel brand for adventurous people.  The concept is simple to understand and participate in, and while the incentive is not huge, it feels ‘just right’. While Vine is a great platform for ‘saying less with more’, more and more brands have been flocking to Instagram’ new video function instead of joining Vine.  Airbnb’s ‘short’ challenges, however, do seem better suited to Vine.

Easynest connects solo travelers… with a shared hotel room

Easynest is a new social travel site that connects travelers who have extra space in their hotel rooms with those looking for a place to stay.  The site’s main aim is to help people save money on their travels, however it also provides a way for them to make friends (or friends with benefits…) while they’re away.

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“Considering hotels charge the same amount for a double room regardless if the guest is using both beds, Easynest helps those who have already booked a room to fill any empty beds with others who share their travel plans. Users first log into the site using their Facebook details, after which they can search for matches and determine if they like the look of the hotel, as well as the potential partner. If they don’t, they can list their own plans to let others find them. Those who have booked can set the rate the other party pays, which is typically 50 percent but can be lower. If a user is interested, they can simply initiate communication through the site” – Springwise.

Why I’m Curious

We’ve been seeing many travel apps and sites emerge that focus on connecting travelers with each other and with locals to augment their travel experiences and make them more authentic/memorable/exciting.  Easynest takes this to a whole other level and seems like something that Virgin would offer if it operated hotels.  This is very much a combination of Airbnb / OK Cupid / How About We and I’m curious to see how far people/travelers are willing to go to make a new friend on vacation, with the obvious risks of being stuck with a psycho for a weekend.

Heineken #Dropped Departure Roulette on JFK Travelers

As part of Heineken‘s global ‘Voyage’ campaign, the Departure Roulette experiment invited travelers in Terminal 8 at JFK Airport to change their scheduled destinations and board a plane to an unknown place.

Travelers aged 25 or older were given the opportunity to go to an adventurous location by simply pushing a button on a display in the terminal. However, they had to be willing to drop their existing travel plans and immediately board the plane to the unknown. The inspiration for Departure Roulette is ‘Dropped’, a series of episodic adventures that involves Heineken sending four men to remote destinations around the world and filming their experience and the challenges they face along the way.


Why I’m Curious

I thought this was an interesting way to take a TV spot and bring it to life in an unusual way. From the video it looks like quite a few people participated, which is interesting because it’s so hard to change flight plans and life plans. Would you drop everything to play Destination Roulette?

The Future Of Airline Websites

What if there was a way to book a better flight? According to J.D. Power, eighty-seven percent of travelers used the Internet for the bulk of their travel planning in 2012, yet the online booking experience being offered by modern airlines is still stuck in the 90s. Inspired by the opportunity to bring progressive disruption to this huge marketplace, we reviewed all major airline websites, and graded them against design and usability criteria including: information architecture, interaction design and visual design. The results were disheartening. We believe that unless the airlines take drastic measures to improve their digital experiences, third-party sites like Kayak and Expedia will continue to eat into their profits. So we launched an experiment to explore, “what if?”


Why I’m Curious

This case study website of how the airline industry could change in booking and also the curiosity and the approach to booking travel. When this new example went around to the Account team this week, everyone was discussing the applications and usage for not only our client but also how competitors might pick this up. It’s interesting to think about how far behind some of the travel websites are and how much of a game-changer a disruptive all-in-one site like this could be.

100 brilliant innovators. 11 hours. One plane. Can a single transatlantic flight help change the world?

There is a groundbreaking campaign happening this week from British Airwayscalled UnGrounded. 100 innovators are flying from San Francisco to London where they are using the time on the plane to focus on changing the world and then descending on DNA Summit at the UN to share their ideas.

More herehere and here. Hashtag is #UnGrounded.

Silicon Valley Innovators to Tackle Global Tech Challenge at 30,000 feet

British Airways launches UnGrounded, the first innovation lab in the sky, designed to connect industry leaders and creative minds for the purpose of tackling challenges that affect the next generation of global innovators. To kick off this program, British Airways is partnering with the United Nations (UN) and the Decide Now Act (DNA) Summit.

Taking place 30,000 feet in the air aboard a British Airways flight from San Francisco to London, UnGrounded participants will be tasked with connecting the abundance of emerging STEM talent in cities around the world with civic and commercial opportunities in major tech hubs, where talent crunch is increasingly an issue.

Developing a platform for discovery of opportunity for the next generation of innovators is at the core of the challenge ahead. On landing in London the group will present their work to a like-minded group of global thought leaders to decide how to put this into action. The UnGrounded flight experience will be designed by innovation firm, IDEO.

The ‘passengers’ will be selected for their energy, ideas and experience. Working with British Airways on this challenge and recruitment are leaders in the tech community, including:

  • Todd Lutwak of Andreessen Horowitz
  • Leor Stern of Google
  • Celestine Johnson of Innovation Endeavors
  • Duncan Logan of RocketSpace
  • Gerald Brady of Silicon Valley Bank
  • Marguerite Hancock of Stanford Business School and the SPRIE Project
  • Rhonda Abrams of The Planning Shop

This program is part of a larger initiative by British Airways to open the door to collaboration with the start-up community in Silicon Valley. The airline recently secured a seat at San Francisco based accelerator, Rocketspace.

Key Facts: The UnGrounded Flight

• The inaugural UnGrounded flight will travel from San Francisco to London in the summer of 2013.

• British Airways has chosen to launch the UnGrounded flight from Silicon Valley, the global hub for technology and the de-facto model for how amazing ideas can be cultivated when people are together.

• Participants on the UnGrounded flight will include some of Silicon Valley’s most prominent thinkers – from budding entrepreneurs to seasoned business leaders, VCs and scholars.

• Upon touchdown in London, flight participants will attend the DNA Summit, a meeting that connects the best minds in the world to progress talk into action.

• During the DNA Summit, passengers will present their solution to the challenge to a group of like-minded, global innovators. The session will be received by the Secretary General of the ITU – the UN agency for information and communication technologies.

The challenge aligns with the UN Broadband Commission’s mandate to achieve “digital inclusion for all”. The commission advocates that all people should have access to affordable information and communication technologies for their social and economic development.

Why I’m Curious

The infrastructure and integration on this campaign are really impressive. They have a robust microsite, custom pre-during-post videos, influencer outreach, social activations & social/digital support culminating in a live event. The social innovation piece ties to their recent commitment to startups and supporting entrepreneurs. Obviously part of a bigger strategy for them, really interesting and well-executed and it’s getting great press and traction. I’m curious to see how this positive brand awareness plays out in terms of additional usage from business leaders and also if other airlines will look to copy or replicate this model.

Grocery Store Launches Airport Pick-up Service


Going home to an empty fridge after a long day of traveling is the worst. So Australian grocery chain, Woolworth’s has launched an airport pick-up service that lets travelers grab ordered goods on the way home.

From PSFK:

Passengers can buy groceries up to seven days in advance by ordering online or by using the Woolworths app.

This new pick-up service, the first in Australia, is an addition to the company’s already existing ‘click&collect service,’ which lets customers pick-up groceries they purchased online from any of their stores.

Why I’m Curious

Woolworth’s service really touches on a travel pain point: the empty fridge. I personally loathe having to order dinner out after being on the road, and then usually find scavenge or buy something for breakfast the next morning too. The convenience of being able to order ingredients for those meals in advance is definitely something I would use…frequently. And according to this review, the experience is actually pretty good.

I could see this service being boosted with a partnership with an airline (perhaps exclusive access to the ordering system on in-flight Wifi) or with a cab company (why not have the groceries waiting in the trunk?). I’m curious to see if the service (or one like it) will pop up at other airports.

12 Hours

After six years traveling the globe as a photographer and street style blogger, you’re bound to receive a few too many emails with requests on where to go, eat and sleep.  Soren Jepsen from Copenhagen, Denmark had just this problem.  To alleviate the head ache of answering these weekly questions, he partnered with freelance writer Anna Peuckert, herself based in Cologne, Germany to share their joint love for fashion, lifestyle and travel.

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Together they created 12 hrs, an online guide that organizes information into twelve hour itineraries, sitting ‘somewhere between the backpackers and the luxury hotels.’ So far the guides include cities such as Antwerp, Berlin, Hyres, Portland, Vancouver and of course Jepsen’s hometown of Copenhagen with more set to be uploaded.

Illustrated with large-scale photographs, each city post functions almost like a walking tour guide, listing the time to start the day, describing the places on the list to visit but including directions on how to get there and where to detour.  What’s most charming is the local insider tips on how to frugally order breakfast in Copenhagen, and how to participate in a special escorted tour by local TV host and fashion superstar, Tiany Kiriloff in Antwerp.

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via @PSFK

Why I’m Curious

Travel brands have been increasingly working to extend their value to consumers with travel guides, top picks, your friends’ picks, etc.  What’s different and interesting about 12 Hours is that it is incredibly authentic and has cool cache / street cred. The 12 hour approach is also nice construct ( NY Times Travel does something similar with their city features). I’m curious to see if 12 Hours will wind up partnering with brands (which might dilute their authenticity) and/or if travel brands will tap likeminded key influencers and give them free reign.


And now for a new, improved way to waste your time…If you’ve ever spent any amount of time toying around with Google Street View, GeoGuessr is sure to please.

The game plops you down in a random location on Google Street View. Look for clues by zooming in and out, and tracking across to different vantage points, and then guess where you are on the map to the right. You’re awarded points based on how close you are to the actual location pictured.


Why I’m Curious?

Yet another creative use of Google Maps…While it’s easy to dismiss games like this as nothing more than time-wasters, I could see something like a GeoGuessr serving as the crux of a social engagement for a travel/leisure brand.

Optimizing our lives

Getting around the city quickly can be extremely painful at time. That is until now, Corral Rides is a transit aggregator that gives users multiple transportation options by simply type in your destination and it shows you pricing and schedule or time for each option. The app seamlessly integrates with Lyft, Sidecar, and Uber so you won’t have to open them all. 


Those concerned about the security of their personal information would be glad to know that the app doesn’t get into the private APIs that Lyft, Uber, and Sidebar use, and it has to switch you over to the appropriate apps once you’ve selected them as an option.



Why I am Curious?

If the current consumer behavior is to engage with mobile devices while traveling then shorter travel times creates fewer opportunities for a digital experience. Therefore, forcing new content delivery tactics to achieve client goals.  

How will this effect the ways we plan 3-5-10 years down the road for each of our clients. 

American Airlines’ Paper Napkin Pitch

american-airlines-contestAmerican Airlines is soliciting suggestions from customers on how to improve the travel experience on their airline. Rather than asking users to publicize this on a microsite a la Starbucks, you can write down your pitch on a napkin (and drop it at the boxes at their new lounge in Austin) or submit it online for the chance to win domestic air travel until March 12.

Why I’m Curious: Soliciting innovation ideas from customers is not new. But I’m interested in the inherent limitations of this format (i.e: a 6″x6″ napkin doesn’t provide that much room for ranting) plus it doesn’t expose customers to the invariable negativity that will come forth from these ideas (by keeping the ideas inside a closed box).

Grab a Digital Song Simply by Holding Your Phone to The Sky

– Jordan

From Creativity-Online:

With AirFranceMusic, a music app designed by BETC for the French airline, users can listen to selected tracks simply by lifting their iPhone to the sky. The phone will automatically add the songs onto its playlist. The idea is that those on the ground can listen to the same selections as those on the planes, and the more you travel, the more you collect; the tracks available in the sky change depending on the country the user is in. Users can also test their musical knowledge and win prizes by finding hidden games in the sky.

Why I’m curious:

The most interesting thing to me about this app is that there is a required action by the user that essentially does nothing, but by doing this action the app can essentially create a different experience for the user. In this particular app the technology is tricking you in a way to have the experience simulate receiving a song fromt he sky, when in reality it is doing no such thing. By telling a consumer that the app is pulling in songs from the sky changes the users experience. I think that there will be a lot more of these types of mental shifts as digital and physical are merging. One cool example of this is this futuristic ATM that shows the money digitally going from the digital realm to the physical world, this example changes the users experience.

British Airways: You Sure Look Familiar

British Airways recently began a new database program called “Know Me,” which utilizes the power of modern technology to provide customers with a tailored flight experience. Flying entails a wealth of customer data: from food preferences to delays experienced to the number of times flying the airline, each customer has its own set of particulars. BA aims to transfer this data into personalizing the flight experience for customers by providing flight attendants access to a database on iPads.

From ETN: “The program is able to send messages with information about specific customers to the iPads of customer service agents and senior cabin crew, or update check-in staff via the airline’s computer system. For example, they may be informed that a Silver Executive Club member is flying in business class for the first time thereby enabling the crew member to welcome that customer and explain the benefits of the cabin. Equally, if a regular traveler has experienced any issues on previous flights, such as a delay due to weather, the crew will be informed of that and will be able to go the extra mile, recognize the previous issue and thank the customer for their continued patronage.”

A controversial part of the program also enables BA service attendants to attempt to identify passengers via Google Image search, based on the notion that physically recognizing passengers strengthens the connection between the airline and passenger.

Why I’m Curious

Oh, the power of human recognition. Your coffee shop has your order ready just as you walk through the door, and associates at your favorite store put new products on the side so you can get them before anyone else. It’s an empowering feeling. Now keep this feeling in mind when you consider the anonymity of modern-day flight travel. Lines everywhere, just another faceless passenger on a plane, navigating the wonders of the TSA.

BA’s “Know Me” program is the perfect solution to this issue, providing customers with a travel experience tailored to their needs. A long-haul flight on British Airways is a bit of a modern luxury, and in a market driven mostly by price, a program like this can help justify the extra money spent on a BA flight. As for the Google Images piece, I’d recommend BA ask passengers to submit a photo during the purchase process, which should eliminate the weirdness.

Dear, all of this has happened before, and it will again.

There has been so much talk about the convergence of the “physical” and “virtual” world through digital experiences…a recent example of that is the Burberry example a few weeks ago that brought in similar experiences in to the physical environment of one of their London stores.

However, I thought this sample of convergence was interesting, and almost pleasant to look at, but it comes at it from the opposite direction. It’s a proposed concept for a new that takes it’s design and experience cues from the “real” world. When it comes to travel, everything you see on here is what you would see when you’re on your journey. Your glasses, luggage tags, your smartphone, and etc…Also, it overall focuses on the concept of a destination, not a emotionless “clean” experience. Continue reading

From The Next Web:

Airbnb released a feature in June called “Wish Lists” allowing its users to add properties to a list of places that they’d like to visit someday. It seems like the feature has caught on, because since its launch, over one million properties have been added to a Wish List.
Why I’m curious:

As marketers, we sometimes leave aspirational purchase musings to the wayside while focusing on pushing committed transactions. However, as Airbnb’s success with Wish Lists suggests, perhaps we should think of aspirational purchases as not just a midway point to actual purchase, but also a point of seed-planting amongst their circles.

Think of Wish Lists like an internal Pinterest — they’re equally effective as brag boards or a planning tool or as gift lists, and the social component of “hearting” (read: the equivalent of Facebook’s “liking”) means the spread of one item can reach many.

The full rundown on the traction Wish Lists have been getting:

– Users have added over 1 million hearts

– The number of repeat daily Wish Listers has increased 3.5x

– 45% of users that login each day engage with Wish Lists:

– 6K people each day heart something

– 25K hearts are being added every day

– The average Wish Lister adds four hearts per day

London train service offers free custom music for the trip to Gatwick Airport

Via Springwise:

The Gatwick Express train travels nonstop between London’s Victoria Station and Gatwick Airport in what is roughly a 30-minute trip. Now, offered exclusively to customers who buy their tickets online, the free Gatwick Express Tracks include three custom-recorded musical interpretations of the journey from recording artists Philip Sheppard, Benga, and The Milk.

Why I’m Curious:
Arguably the worst part of commuting is the mundanity of sitting without stimuli. What the Gatwick Express has done is made the trip more enjoyable for its online consumers by offering music downloads — something that makes a trip go by much faster. For travel and transportation brands, this add-on is a relatively small cost to potentially improve the worst part of the experience.

2-for-1 Travel with QR Code Activation

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) launched a 2-for-1 promotional campaign targeting couples. Knowing that couples often book their flights together while sitting down with each other, they created a video that needed to be scanned by both people. SAS split the campaign video in half and asked individuals to scan two unique QR codes simultaneously on their smartphones in order to play the video. The two smartphones had to be touching side-by-side for the video to make sense and for the complete promotional code to be seen.

The ‘Couple Up To Buckle Up’ campaign was also promoted in print ads and also on Facebook. The clever campaign successfully ensured that during the campaign week, every ticket available was sold out.

Why I’m Curious:

This is a nice use of QR code technology that actually leverages an existing behavior.  This activation not only provides

Luxury vending machines tied to Fashion Week

For New York Fashion Week, Hudson Hotel partnered with upcoming designers to feature “fashion necessities” in a vending machine within the hotel lobby.

– Judy

Why I’m curious:

While the idea of a high-tech vending machine isn’t new, I like the idea of a vending machine that provides luxury items. I think this is interesting because it turns the typical vending machine idea of being for everyone on i

ts head. This is clearly targeting the design-conscious. It also appeals to the lifestyle consumer mindset of getting what they want, when they want it, and where they want it. Moreover, Hudson Hotel’s partnership with emerging designerselevates the hotel’s brand positioning as a potent combination of urban adventure, daredevil design, and true affordability.

Here’s the full PSFK article:

To celebrate Fashion Week in New York, USA, Hudson Hotel will feature a large vending machine in its lobby that will carry fashion ‘necessities.’ The luxury items will be from upcoming and promising designers from the U.S., including a diamond and wood strand bracelet from Ruby Kobo, a python clutch from SANG A, hand-made 7-fold wool ties from Public School, and a rabbit fur jacket from Jolibe. Other designers include Alice Ritter, Gemma Redux and Grey Ant.

The idea of an innovative vending machine isn’t new. PSFK featured an article this year on the rise of the hi-tech vending machine. There’s even been a vending machine shaped like Santa that dispenses MUJI Christmas products.

Rent an iPad


Flying Connected, a New York-based electronics rental company, allows travelers to rent devices to make their trips that much more enjoyable. They rent out everything from mobile devices and tablets, to laptops and GPS navigation.

Users select the dates of their trip, pay online, and (for a fee) Flying Connected brings their rental to the hotel or airport…plus they pick it up! Flying Connected has tiered pricing strategy (basic, plus and premium), which varies based on the insurance package, accessories and pre-loaded media.  And referring a friend gets you one day free.

Why I’m Curious:

We’ve previously talked about our consumer culture that thrives on never really owning anything (we can rent our movies, our clothing, and even our cars). I think this iteration provides a real value for both business and leisure travelers AND for brands.  You’re giving consumers the chance to try one of your products in a context where it will likely experience very heavy use. I wonder if FlyingConnected ties back how many of their consumers ultimately purchase one of the rented items (i.e: after renting an iPad for 3 days…you want to buy one when you get home). I think this is a great way to get our Verizon products (particularly 4G LTE products) into the hands of a new and relevant audience.