With truffles – seasonal is the way to go. And fall is the perfect time of year to enjoy this pungent delicacy in Italy. We were delighted to taste a number of regional specialties in Lombardia, Lazio, and Umbria – each with their own distinctive character and provincial flare.
One concept that we didn’t indulge in, but worth mentioning is Tartufi & Friends in Rome. Its sheer existence is somewhat of a cultural disconnect in a country that uses fresh raw truffles only in fall. But, by capitalizing on supply and demand of tourists shopping near the Spanish Steps, this “Truffle Lounge”, has leveraged one of the most expensive foods in the world, year-round. 
Tartufi & Friends
Like it or not, Tartufi & Friends is clearly turning trends into a marketable opportunity. Like hocus-pocus truffle oil, the attempt does not capture the true essence. 
KISS Hello Kitty
KISS x Hello Kitty
Hello Kitten! Sanrio's favorite cat went rocker chic for this Italian potato chip collaboration. Best of all, the package includes a Cracker Jack style prize: KISS x Hello Kitty nail decals. 
This 70's "Dressed to Kill" makeover was brought to you by Salati Preziosi.
blue trends
Blue colorway
In times of transition, blue represents a sense of calm and has a very positive association, making it a very safe global color. Water and sky ground the landscape, bringing forth a sense of transparency, balance, and interaction. 
August feels very much like a blue month. The diverse shade range coupled with the clean, digital aesthetic - is summer's last dynamic and vivid statement before fall approaches. Remember that in 2014, when this "it" color brings harmony to passionate palettes. 
UPDATE 9.4.12: Pantone's top colors for spring 2014 include various shade of blue. 
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.
{photo: Skoah.com}
Loyalty programs are nothing new, unless you’re promoting the concept of customized personal training for your skin.
Skoah has taken the concept of a gym membership and exquisitely blended it with a beauty workout regimen. The program includes a series of workouts with a skin trainer – 12 fitskin facials or 8 facialiscious facials – plus special member benefits like 10% off product purchases throughout the year.
While we’d never turn our nose up at a gift card, we certainly love this fun approach to treatments with structured regularity. 
UPDATE 11/7/13:  Skoah is opening three locations in Seattle, according to co-founder Andrea Scott. (via Twitter)
.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.
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.
Wine kiosk
Airport Kiosks
Hello from The Mile High City.
It seems like forever since we flew through Denver International Airport on our way to New York or Chicago for a Tradeshow and in all honesty we were not looking forward to the experience of making our way through the expansive space. Fortunately, like most captive venues across the country, it's been updated to include battery charging stations at all gates, a mini-spa, and a variety of shopping/dining options. 
With limited premium services, it's only logical that we focus on the retail component — specifically the smaller shopping venues. Throughout the massive 33,457 acre airport, the kiosk design is consistent and they're spaced apart from each other so that the customer isn't bombarded with a mass of linear concepts. This mini bottle shop, a stones throw of Vino Volo wine bar, was a great example of how to maximize space while educating customers.
We love how the far side of the kiosk which faces the gates in terminal C was primarily merchandised with Sparkling and Champagne as a grab-and-go impulse purchase for flyers who have just landed. Positioning the concept before the security checkpoint also allows frequent flyers an opportunity to present a celebratory gift to give to friends or family without the hassle of checked luggage.
Karl Lagerfeld Amsterdam
  • An animated history of Typography {via Brian Martin at Creative Circle}
  • Money is valued differently depending on how it's earned. {via Scientific American}
  • Subscription service Try The World offers a taste of a different city’s culture each month. {via Springwise}
  • One of the original immersive dining restaurants in New York, Monkey Town, returns to the Chelsea area of the city this summer.
  • Culinary trends from the National Restaurant Show. {via Nation's Restaurant News}
  • The Karl Lagerfeld Store in Amsterdam enables customers to make and share their own digital "look book." {via Springwise}
  • Some retail manufactures reveal where and how a garment is made. {via CNBC}
Totokaelo Seattle
Rachel Comey Bedding
We stopped by the Rachel Comey Pre-Party Event at Totokaelo in Seattle this past weekend to check out the designer's limited-edition bedding line.
The custom-made range, in vintage-inspired silk and linen printed fabrics from previous seasons, was chic and whimsical. We love the attention to detail in combination with California King duvets sporting pompoms.  Overly serious bedding manufactures, beware. 
Available only at Totokaelo Art & Object.