Living, Working & Playing Better With Technology

It is a simple and known truth. Technology and our ever-connected world are hurling us into busier, more hectic, and more time-constrained lives. The very gadgets that serve to improve our lifestyles may be also preventing us from stopping to smell the roses.

Last Friday, PSFK invited creative professionals for a whole day seminar to inspire everyone to live, work, and play better with tech. Jam-packed with speakers; the day had the audience on their toes with rapid fire sharing of activities, projects, and ideas through short and succinct 5-10 minute sessions. All the sessions had a common thread. How do we take the run-away train of technology and use it to our advantage? Below are some examples of tech distracting us as well as improving our lifestyles.

  • Boredom is a thing of the past. These days, when we have a free moment, whether it be waiting in an aisle or even sitting in a park, we immediately fill our free time with our mobile phones instead of letting our minds wander. Letting our minds wander is a good thing however; it triggers our brains to feel relaxed, helping us connect information in new ways to lead to “light bulb” moments.
  • Wearable technology is not limited to the wrist. In the future, everything we wear will be embedded with tech. Our jewelry. Our glasses. Our shoes. Even our clothes will be made of fabric that will be able to charge our phones.
  • With Internet of Things or the idea that all our “things” will be connected through the Internet, we will be able to get data streams on everything and anything. In the future, the biggest areas for data streams will be for our bodies’ fitness and health, our homes, and our vehicles.

A Force of Nature: The Nike Free Stride Experience

Earlier this week, I had an incredible opportunity to combine two of my biggest passions. As you’ve probably guessed, shopper marketing is one of them – it’s a field I love thinking, talking, and writing about. I’m also an obsessed runner. So when presented with the opportunity to take part in an innovative launch event for the new Nike Free running shoes, I jumped at it. The Nike Free Stride Speed Run is part product demo, part group treadmill workout, and a completely immersive experience.


To generate interest, Nike kickstarted the Free Stride experience by tapping into it’s NikeNYC Run Club, a training group for runners of all skill levels in major cities across the U.S., by sending members an exclusive early access invitation. Nike also leveraged its local coaches as brand ambassadors, encouraging runners to sign-ups during training sessions and sharinge the experience across social media, a tactic that has proven successful for cultish cycling studio Soul Cycle.


There is no escaping the Free Stride Experience at Nike’s flagship retail store in New York City.  There is amazing stopping power in five runners hammering on treadmills – music blaring – in front of a jaw-dropping, two-story LED screen.  All along the stage, Nike Free running shoes are displayed pedestals and with plenty of room to stand and watch, shoppers gather and turn into spectators.


As I get ready to start my own Free Stride experience, I check-in and am escorted to a changing room and outfitted for my workout.  Nike associates explain the key product features of the new Nike Free and ask questions about my running preferences to help select the best style for me to demo during the workout.


The workout itself, a grueling set of speed intervals, is guided by both the massive LED screen and Nike coach. Sight, sound, and motion work together to create a completely immersive experience for runners and spectators alike. As we move through exotic, environments created by the LED screen, LED lights in the floor change and pulse to the beat of the music while nature sounds are subtly mixed in. I actually feel transported to the places on the screen in front of me and despite the intensity of the workout, I find a huge grin on my face.

The workout ends, high fives are exchanged and we return to the changing area. This is a perfect occasion for Nike associates to chat with us about how the Nike Free’s felt during the workout. It’s easy to forget this is a selling occasion for Nike but throughout the experience, the branding and selling all feels very subtle. I don’t feel pressured, but there are certainly clear buying opportunities and Nike associates made sure we walk away with a fantastic understanding of the product.


Nike is able to extend the reach of the Free Stride experience by “evangelizing” Free Stride participants into social ambassadors. Photographers and videographers capture each session and participants receive a post-event email recap complete with links to download photos and videos from their session. By providing social media worthy assets and encouraging sharing using designated hashtags, Nike can effectively turn the early adopters into the social influencer’s for the next wave of runners.

In the end, it was an incredible experience to have been a part of. The Nike Free Stride Speed Run is a beautiful case study in blending product demos, social influencers, experiential marketing, and retail technology into one integrated experience. It will be exciting to see if this strategy is employed in future launches. The marketer and runner in me certainly hopes it will.


It’s Been a Mad March 2015, Baby!

As 2015 March Madness draws to close tonight with the championship game facing off Duke and Wisconsin, we’ve seen pretty much all brackets busted, gametime excitement around the players, the underdogs and the upsets, and more promotions than swooshes of the basketball. With that in mind, let’s take at a look at how some of the NCAA partnership brands got into the action this year.

Burger King’s 2 for $5 with Seth Davis and Kenny Smith

On the heels of its Watch Like A King 2014 campaign, NCAA Corporate Sponsor Burger King is back with a value bundle, two premium sandwiches for $5. Guests can mix and match their favorite premium sandwiches including the new Spicy Big Fish Sandwich, BIG KING Sandwich, Big Fish Sandwich, Original Chicken Sandwich and the YUMBO Hot Ham & Cheese Sandwich all for $5. The value play is getting buzz thanks to supportive TV spots with sports analysts Seth Davis and Kenny Smith. Nothing like bringing in the experts to add some authenticity to the messaging. Word is Burger King will also be part of the experience at the 2015 Final Four by bringing fans autograph opportunities with sports legends, along with free rides in Burger King-branded cars.


Put REESE’S In Your Starting Lineup

REESE’S is at it again this year, keeping it’s perfect combination of peanut butter and chocolate top of mind with shoppers, with its Put Reese’s In Your Starting Lineup! Facebook promotion. This simple, but engaging promotion, encourages you to create a lineup of your favorite REESE’S candies for a chance to win free product. REESE’S is highly engaged with the NCAA as a corporate sponsor and incredibly visible throughout the tournament with advertising and brand highlights. The brand has also taken to social media to keep engagement going as the excitement of the tournament builds. In addition to presence at the Final Four Friday, REESE’S is a sponsor of the NCAA College All-Star game, which took place Final Four weekend and aired April 5 on CBS. Through its, REESE’S has created a hub for gameday recipes and its NCAA promotions.


REESE’S SnackTalk at WalMart

As part of its retailer specific executions this year, REESE’S brought the Snack Talk to Walmart, encouraging REESE’s fans to submit photos of their favorite REESE’s game day recipes during March, with finalists announced at the REESE’S NCAA College All-Star game this past weekend. Viewers were encouraged to vote via Twitter for their favorite to be crowned the winner. Erin @DelightfulEMade was deemed the REESE’s Snack Talk Champion and got to have her recipe featured on air.


Buffalo Wild Wings #WingWisdom

As the Official Hangout of March Madness, Buffalo Wild Wings debuted its #WingWisdom with a fully-integrated campaign across television, social, digital, in-store and on-site Final Four experiences. From ads starring Steve Rannazzisi (“The League”) to “Basketball Wisdom” studio segments on CBS Sports and TBS Sports to an online Tournament Tracker to engaging in conversations about the tournament and providing shareable invites via social media, Buffalo Wild Wings’s omnichannel approach was keeping its brand top of mind with consumers in a sea of restaurants vying for share. In particular, the brand kept the engagement alive with fans by encouraging them to compete for “B-Dubs Baller” status in restaurant with skill-based games and bracket challenges — guests who participated could compete for over 1000 prizes, including a trip to next year’s Final Four.

Lessons From Target Too

By now, most of you have probably already heard about Target Too. The industry went abuzz for the pop-up design-meets-digital playground that came to the Chelsea Galleries from March 25 – 31. And for good reason – Target Too is a beautiful mixture of experiential, augmented reality, social integration and creative design.  But underneath all the glitz and glamour, there are lessons we can all learn and apply to our own businesses about being intentional with technology.

A reason for mobile

From the moment you step foot in Target Too, your entire experience is guided and enhanced by the Target Too mobile app.



Their app is not an after thought nor technology for technology’s sake; it is integral to the consumer’s experience. As we consider the role of mobile apps in our own businesses, the best examples provide consumers a unique value and differentiated experience.  In the below examples from Target, consumers can use the app to discover augmented reality experiences or upload and share their own pixelated selfie to social media.



Make mobile commerce feel seamless

Beyond entertainment, the app allowed Target to seamlessly integrate commerce into the consumer’s experience.  As consumers used the app to learn about and interact with each exhibit, they are also given the opportunity to discover and shop the individual components that made it up.


serveitup1 serveitup2

My favorite example of this mobile commerce integration was Get Framed (seen below).  Leveraging the same form of visual search technology that powers Target’s In a Snap mobile app, consumers could shop the components of each piece simply by “framing it” inside the app with their camera.  Far more convenient and natural than QR codes, this type of visual search will continue to grow in retail.  Retailers like JC Penny and Macy’s are leveraging visual search through their mobile apps and earlier in March, Shazam announced plans to enter the visual search market as well.


Make it personal

The benefits of personalized marketing are far reaching.  From creating shareable content to building loyalty and increasing conversion – personalization helps move the conversation from “you and me” to “us”.  Target Too offered a variety of ways to personalize the experience.  The Play My Jam module of the app allowed consumers to play DJ, setting the mood for the exhibit through select playlists.  The exhibit also leveraged touch screen kiosks to allow consumers to build their own t-shirts, tote bags, or iPhone cases to take home.

playmyjam playmyjam2


Target Too is a grand work of art.  It brilliantly blurs the lines between “consumer” and “shopper”.  But if creating a pop-up art gallery isn’t in the budget, we can still look at the execution and apply the strategic principles it was built on to our everyday business.