photo trends
Pike Place Market
 
The rise of Instrgram has offered advertisers an interesting aesthetic solution to depressing and unengaging photography.
 
According to a report in AdAge, social media agency Laundry Service measured the performance of its campaigns using “organic Instagram-like photos” – defined as non-glossy pictures shot outside of a studio – and found that they performed better than traditional images.
 
While we don’t condone forgoing the studio or conventional photos as a primary source for creative – it’s clear social media users prefer the authenticity of lifestyle photography.  
 
Pumpkin Spice
Pumpkin Spice Latte
 
So, what does the prevalence of pumpkin spice say about our culture?
 
1. Nostalgia pays off. In contrast to the retail backlash around marketing and decorating for the Christmas holiday, fall denotes warmth and nostalgia without any gift-giving pressure. And pumpkin-inspired, limited-time offers are up 234% from 2008 to 2012, according to Datassential Menu Trends.
 
2. Imitation is flattery. As if pumpkin spice candles weren't enough, there are a plethora of products to choose from to complete your personal pumpkinification, such as: M&M’s, Pringles, Hershey’s Kisses, Planters, Eggos, Jet-Puffed Marshmallows, Country Crock, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Bath and Body Works, and yes, even Glade Room Spray. The icing on the cake...er, pie...of proliferation came via a feminine care products spoof by Saturday Night Live.
 
Pumpkin Spice
 
3. Indulgences are in our nature. A slice of pumpkin pie has nearly as many calories as a 16oz. pumpkin spice latte with 2% milk, but who’s counting?
 
4.  The rules are tricky. It’s acceptable to launch some products early as long as there is customer demand and the item doesn’t have religious or date-dependent ties. Pre-promotion of Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte in celebration of the popular drink’s 10-year anniversary had a domino effect within the industry starting in September.
 
 Pumpkin trends
 
5. Seasonality rules. Winter squash is harvested in autumn and is most likely native to Guatemala and Mexico and surrounding areas, dating back 10,000 years, according to author Kim O’Donnel.
 
6. Smell is a powerful sense. It’s not surprising that pumpkin spice tastes nothing like pumpkin. Hidden behind aromatic combination spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon, you’d be hard pressed to pick a butternut squash out of a lineup.
 
7. Don’t jump to conclusions. Contrary to popular belief, pumpkin pie and definitely pumpkin spice do not contain your Halloween friend. Squash style pumpkins, which are sweeter, are best for pie filling. 
 
8. Brands Beware. There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. In addition to the SNL skit, there's a plethora of disdain for the commercialization of pumpkin spice, but you shouldn't blame Starbucks. The relationship with the flavor combination has evolved over the past ten years, and companies have followed suit. It's definitely time for product development teams to consider new alternatives. 
 
 
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UPDATE: 11.21.13: More regarding #8... A writer for Slate spent a week on a Pumpkin Spice diet and lived to write about it. We love his commentary and would add that "special edition" has lost meaning altogether due to various marketing campaigns that don't really live up to expectations. 
 
Walking Stories
 
Blame it on Italy.
 
We couldn't resist sharing the trailer for Salvatore Ferragamo's 21-minute feature, Walking Stories, with you. The story, starring Kaya Scodelario and Lauren Hutton, will be shown in eight episodes on a bi-weekly basis on Ferragamo.com. 
 
 
The journey starts in Florance and spans three cities that each represent a distinctive aspect of the fashion house. We love how the themes of travel, food, and culture are increasingly represented alongside fashion. View the episodes here.
 
 
 
Instagram
Instagram
 
The latest step in further democratizing photography and, perhaps, devaluing the professional photography industry has launched for iOS devices. SnapMyAd enables consumers to link their Instagram account and allow third party users – such as marketers or businesses – to purchase images.
 
Another feature includes a promotional space for companies to collect/use pictures from contests or events, while rewarding fans with perks or discounts from the brand for likes in exchange.
 
There is something absolutely fantastic about gaining access to Instagram photos from an advertiser's standpoint, which has now become a totally legitimate resource. But it’s hard to imagine amateur photographers with iPhones truly making a living through monetization via SnapMyAd.
 
As friends and admirers of natural lighting, perspective, and the art of editing – it’s important, if not vital, to point out how mobile and digital photography has turned an industry upside-down.
 
Is it our cultural or moral responsibility, as content creators and consumers of social media, to better understand the impact of such applications on society? Or are you happy to snap away and pocket the cash for a photograph, regardless of the consequences? Let us know your thoughts via twitter or facebook
 
 
{source: Springwise}
 
food marketing
food marketing
 
Would you introduce a menu, cookbook, or dish without testing the recipe? Or would you dare to launch a new product on the day when your business has the least customers?
 
Then why are many food and retail professionals not leveraging vital statistical data before hitting “send” on their email campaign?
 
Let us share the greatest piece of advice that nearly every marketer and merchandiser already knows: Don’t send an email on a Monday, Friday, or over the weekend. Period.
 
Why? Think about it.
 
The bulk of your contacts work Monday through Friday – which means that people are generally busy ramping up on Mondays and either trying to finish the week's deliverables (or planning for the weekend) on Friday. And over the weekend, most people check email less frequently as they focus on family and friends.
 
Instead, consider the following options:
  • Pre-plan your efforts. Nearly all bulk email sending solutions (MailChimp, Constant Contact, etc.) offer an option to schedule your email in advance for a date and time in the future.
  • Review your past performance. If your previous campaigns are below your industry average, the first thing you should evaluate is your open and click rate.
  • Research the right solution. Most email marketing providers actually offer information on when to send emails – for free. Just search “what day is the best to send an email" or click here. And, if you are not investing in an email marketing solution, you have no idea who’s reading the messages you are investing time to send.
  • Test and test again. The only way to know for sure what works best for you is to experiment with various days and times. If you’re particularly email savvy, you can segment your list to maximize for the greatest reach.
 
Content creation is only as good as the connections that you make. Winning your potential and/or current audience at the right place and at the right time is a key ingredient to success.
 
Marketing is more than stating the obvious details about a product or event. Without engagement, it's just art.
 
.nyc
.nyc domains
 
The Internet is not just about who you are, but where you are. 
 
And now, New York City is the first metropolis in the world to establish itself in the latest, and growing, online real estate narrative.  According to The Atlantic’s digital property, The Atlantic Cities, local businesses and residents with a "bona fide presence" in the city will be able to start registering for new web addresses ending in .nyc – like foodtours.nyc, or vintageshopping.nyc.
 
These new, covetable domains will be open to a wide range of personal and professional entities – from government entities and nonprofit organizations to independent businesses and local residents. This expansion is the perfect example of the melding of three trends that  we previewed at the beginning of 2012 : Global Locality, Smart Commerce, and Life Story Labeling.
 
Our colleague, Stacy Bennett, principal at  Bennett Marketing Group , explains the benefits of .nyc in an ever-expanding World Wide Web.
 
"The expansion of top level domains is interesting on two levels:
 
1. It broadens the availability of top level domains. Obvious, but true, nonetheless.
2. It leverages the strength of Mobile and the fact that Mobile Search is strongly driven by location-based Search: the number of local searches on a mobile device quadrupled in 2012 and that trend will continue. Coupled with the facts that of the 30 billion annual mobile searches, about 12 billion are local searches, and that local mobile searches (85.9 billion) are projected to exceed desktop searches (84 billion) for the first time in 2015, this will be a powerful local marketing tool for your digital marketing program.“ 
 
We love how programs like this allow individuals the opportunity to design and develop networks that leverage cultural trends. For more insights about preserving tradition and diversity by promoting pride in community, transparency of information, and how digital ID’s highlight the humanity of brands, please view all of our reporting on Global Locality, Smart Commerce, and Life Story Labeling.
 
Will your city be next? 
 
 
{Source: The Atlantic Cities via J.A.}
 
Marketers and merchandisers know a thing or two about foot-traffic.
 
At GlobalShop – the largest annual visual merchandising trade show and conference for the retail design industry – vendors line the isles with new innovations and technologies in floor projections, decals, and digital signage.
 
Designers give us cues all the time. For instance, in retail the quality of the flooring material is a pretty good indication of the merchandise quality and department pricing. And at the Pike Place Market, 45,000 name tiles reference the local investments that the community made in 1986. Plus we’re all aware of functional cues, such as those along the isles of airplanes, where white lights lead to red lights to denote an exit.
 
zion
 
As a tool for creating an experiential environment, we’re always open to new ideas, so here’s a simple treatment  we found while out on the road – literally – that we thought worth sharing: the red roads at Zion National Park. Not only do those red roads make every photo pop, but they help create balance with nature, while  also being completely functional.
 
Thinking about incorporating unique treatments to complement your concept? Don’t limit your thinking to just call-to-action floor decals. Or give us a call to help you develop ideas that align with your strategy while differentiating your brand from the pack.
 
Carrefour stores
 
Carrefour stores in Shanghai are embracing QR codes as a tool for communicating food safety, quality, and freshness of vegetables and fruits to customers. The codes within pricing boards take local to the next level by allowing the customer to view the production place and date of the item, the business license of its supplier, and other information regarding the farm.
 
Carrefour stores QR
 
The in-store signage also assists in creating a deeper relationship between farm, store, and customer. According to Fresh Plaza, the intent is to improve food safety and freshness, and also increase farmers' incomes at the same time.
 
When our team visited this Shanghai location, not all produce had this option. For example, the selections of imported and organic produce didn't have QR signage. 
 
Carrefour stores
 
The cause and effect of food safety in China may have played a role in implementing this marketing and merchandising strategy, but we believe that there is more to glean from this type of communication. QR codes are not simply for directing a consumer to a facebook page. This type of implementation brings traceability to the forefront -- and inspires a sense of connection and trust across a global production and supply chain.
 
By divulging the names and relationships of Carrefour's suppliers to the community, including it's competitors, they may have gained more loyalty longterm. 
Effective Communication
Communication 201
 
Many of us talk, and respond, and reply, and retweet all day long. But, as we all take a moment to digest the sheer magnitude of intake, it’s important to reflect on ways to improve and clarify communication.
 
A common misconception is that there’s a magic silver bullet to effective messaging. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Simply launching a website, training your team, or sending an email about new products isn’t guaranteed to inspire interest or improve sales. In most cases, there are a series of objectives, tactics, and collaborations with varied groups to ensure the collective message is cohesive.
 
With strategy and trend research as the backbone of In Your Head, it will come as no surprise that we believe in taking cues from customers. And all too often, we can learn the most by the non-verbal signals, body movements, and gestures that express feelings and behaviors in ways that words alone never can. If you’re in the digital space without a physical person to observe, use analytics as a guide to understanding sentiment and what’s going on behind the laptop.   
 
To help articulate other ways to improve communication, we asked 10 professionals, from varying industries, to share their thoughts on the subject.
 
"One of the most important things about writing is that the reader places you in a position of trust, and this is a sacred thing. Literary or dramatic devices aside, maintaining absolute candor with your reader is key and this includes signaling to the reader the extent of backup you have for your claims or assertions. A good everyday example of this is that while your headline or tweet should zing, it should be materially accurate as to what the post is about."
 
"Brands and businesses should focus on developing strong content in tandem with SEO. Messaging should always support your brand's vision and philosophy and be tailored for your audience — not exclusively for search engines."
- Julie Ashkenazi, Creative Director
 
"As a coach and as a business leader, I consciously practice Appreciative Inquiry, a philosophy/belief that includes the tenet that positive conversation and interactions stem from positive questions and reflections.  Conversations and interactions become positive the instant we ask a positive question, tell a positive story or share a positive reflection.  The more we attend to the positive in the moment, the more positive will be our intentions for future moments, which creates the groundwork for change and transformation."
 
"One of the biggest communication tips I could give is being strategic about content. Content doesn't live in a bubble and you need to be honest to the platform of where it lives – regardless if it's 140 characters on Twitter or a series of funny gif on Tumblr. Knowing your audience and producing the rich content that will stop them and engage them means preparations, planning and adapting."
- Gitamba Saila-Ngita, Chief Innovation Officer
 
"One of the first things I learned as a reporter more than 20 years ago is to get the facts — then check them twice (or more).  That journalism is a public trust to be practiced with the utmost seriousness and responsibility, and that accuracy is paramount to putting a story out into the public domain. The same standards apply in my work as a chef and cookbook author.  The public is putting their trust in me that my recipes do what they say they're going to do, from servings to cooking time."
- Kim O'Donnel, Food Writer & Author
 
"If writing to a particular editor or producer, try to mimic the language used by his/her media outlet.  It will not only demonstrate that you are a reader or viewer but will also increase the chances that they will respond."
 
"As a professional photographer with over twenty years in the business I have learned the importance of communicating with your client prior to the shoot in regards to usage. I find it best to have a simple written agreement that clearly states what the photos will be used for and for how long. This way there are no surprises down the road when the client wants to use the photos for additional marketing beyond the scope of the original shoot."
- Jim Henkens, Photographer
 
"When sharing an article or video on social, include an excerpted quote to increase engagement. This provides a little flavor, and lets people know why the content is worth their time."
- Virginia Bunker, Copywriter
 
"Segment your email list and serve content that's relevant to each group in order to increase open rate and drive engagement. Monitor your lists' behavioral data, along with the recency and frequency of purchase, to help improve the relevancy of your message."
- Uzi Ashkenazi, Director of New Media
 
"Please remember, especially when attending events and conferences (SXSW anybody?), don't over-promise and under-deliver."
- Michael Tchong, Public Speaker
 
As connectivity, globalization, and the demolition of barriers continue to drive new products and services, it’s more important than ever to transform and modify messaging with a recipe that matches your strategy. Transparency continues to be a key ingredient to thoughtful communication.
 
Twitter Cookbook Contest
So you want to write a cookbook?
 
 
Tweeting can now get you one step closer to a cookbook deal. But unlike traditional proposals, each pitch will need to participate in a March Madness style basketball tournament before final approval.
 
The Lisa Ekus Group is taking an untraditional route by hearing the best culinary non-fiction ideas via 140-character (or less) tweets to Literary Agent Sally Ekus (@SallyEkus) using the hashtag #SignMeSal. Inspired by the NCAA Men's Division basketball tournament, the agency will select 16 finalists who will then be asked to round out their proposals with additional tweets that cover standard proposal elements, such as the book’s point of differentiation.
 
The participants will then be whittled down to two finalists — who will compete against each other during a Twitter chat on March 25, 2013. A single winner will be chosen and then work with Sally Ekus to develop a fleshed out proposal to pitch to editors at publishing houses.
 
“In the face of a constantly shifting publishing environment our agency is increasingly interested in finding new ways to discover fresh voices and concepts," Ekus said. "The Twitter contest is a result of the fast paced landscape we all work in, and a desire to give an unpublished or un-agented author a chance to work one on one with our agency.”
 
At a time when many bloggers — food or otherwise — are enamored with a book deal, it makes good sense to consider the resources needed to launch such an endeavor. Most writers and photojournalists could stand to reflect more closely on building a team to support their vision in tandem with receiving a book advance. We love how this contest allows participants to see the value of a literary agent and an agency through an authentic, realtime social media discussion.   
 
For more details on the contest, including deadlines, click here.