Wednesday, September 30, 2009

the counter-intuitive cuppa

Originally uploaded by lookitsfitz
Starbucks has just introduced its first instant coffee product, Via. Via, meaning “road” in Italian, is meant to be a quick grab for those on the go. The company will be selling the product at their stores, Target, Costco, outdoor gear shop REI and on United Airlines flights.

There are three things I find very contradictory about this product and it’s parent brand, Starbucks.

Via doesn’t belong on the shelves in Starbucks. The store locations, designed to be comfortable spaces where customers could sit and relax, reflect a brand you spend time with. The core idea of Via is ‘on the go’ making it a sore thumb in the store.

Starbucks has suffered in the recession as customers head to McDonalds or Dunkin Donuts for a cheaper cup of coffee. There is the understanding that at Starbucks you are getting the quality that you are paying for. Via is less than one dollar for a cup of coffee and while it may be a competitor at gas stations, cheap is not a value one attributes with Starbucks.

Despite the fact that families have cut back on road trips, Starbucks is promoting its ‘road coffee’ by filming two people on a road-trip. The duo road-tripped throughout North America to hand out the coffee and explore the scenery.

Taste test the instant cuppa at Starbucks locations October 2 - 5 and receive a free cup of the brewed stuff.

*Thanks Platypusrex256 for the suggestion. Adding this video from the road trip series.

**Update: I tried it! It's actually not that bad... just make sure to use enough water.
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Monday, September 28, 2009

keep your eye on this ball

Early adopters have found Foursquare addicting. Being one of them, I've noticed over time the increased number of friends joining the site and the number of those reporting being "checked in" at the same location as myself. One example I found funny was when I checked in at LaGuardia Airport one Friday morning a couple of weeks ago, there were two or three others (not "friends," but random Foursquare users) who had also checked in that morning. Who knew LGA was so hoppin?

3 Reasons why Foursquare will succeed:

1. Now hear this - Today's news is that Twitter co-founder, Jack Dorsey, just put money behind the company

2. Part of keeping tech alive is figuring how to make money off of it and Foursquare users will have noticed the more recent pop-ups on FS maps - special deals for the mayor of the store. Thanks to geo-tagging technology, the trend towards local, which started in food, is now moving into other business categories. Placing ads for companies on Foursquare will bring money into the company. If it is so extremely localized (holding a mayor-ship is something only one local person could realistically have) this could help mom and pop shops.

3. The growing relevance of geo-tagging technology: Since the number of Smart Phone users has increased, Google has increasingly been developing geo-tag products. Consumers will find that they no longer have to look for a store, it will find them. Now that we can get the info we want WHEN we want it via the real-time streaming web, we will grow to desire info WHERE we want it.

We are seeing the release of augmented reality tools that give information of a Smart Phone users world by simply looking through the lens of their phone. Now if Foursquare is able to incorporate AR...

Friday, September 25, 2009

a documentary gives voice to struggling Americans

I wrote this piece for and am reposting it here.

Austin and Brian Chu were tired of hearing statistics about Americans losing their jobs and homes from politicians and reporters. The brothers, ages 26 and 23, decided to make the hard numbers more human by traveling across 50 states to interview Americans heavily affected by the recession. They talked to single mothers, seniors, Amish people, house squatters, students and others who have shown leadership in their communities but whose stories had slipped under the radar.

The resulting documentary, The Recess Ends, premieres Sept. 30 in San Francisco. The Chus will also preview the film in several cities before then.

One of their brand-related findings was the sizable shift in opinions they heard about Wal-Mart. While some consumers had once demonized the superstore as a killer of mom and pop shops, many now said they’d grown to be grateful for Wal-Mart, seeing it as a haven for the budget-strapped.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

gaming should be fun, not intrusive

Playing an online game should not lead you to have to apologize to your friends. Thanks to MobsterWorld however, I feel as though I owe all of my Twitter followers a big apology.

The damn thing took over my Twitter account, sent tweets to all of my followers trying to get them to join and tweeted each move that I made in the 5 minutes I spent playing. That's embarrassing. You shouldn't have to be embarrassed because you interacted with a game. Whereas MobsterWorld may see this as a way to gain users, they are actually putting themselves out in an extremely negative light. People will accept, play once, be angry, disable the game on their account and never go back.

Games via Twitter is a big potential market. It allows for interesting social experiments too; think about how you could prove the '6 Links to Kevin Bacon' theory. But a game has to think less like a virus and more like a console.

And just for the record, I did not rob any houses.

tweeting incentives to get customers into stores

I wrote this piece was written for and am reposting it here.

Smart brands are gaining followers on Twitter by offering real-time discounts or giveaways to get customers into their stores. Borders, the bookstore chain, is offering free or discounted books at certain locations. Baja Fresh, the Mexican fast food food chain owned by Wendy’s International, offers freebies or discounts during lunch hours to customers who show the Tweeted offer at the register.


This kind of promotion is smart for a couple of reasons. Establishing consistent rapport with consumers during a downturn helps a brand remain top-of-mind when the economy improves. And for chain retailers, which are often seen as having no real connection to the communities where their stores are located, a promotion like this evokes a sense of local familiarity. The tactic is also extremely measurable—return on investment is easily calculated based on the number of Twitter followers a brand has and the number of people who follow through on the giveaway.

Plus, this is a great way to participate in the online conversation, the constant stream of social media chatter that brands need to join. Our most recent trendletter, “The Now Web,” explores how brands can leverage the Web’s shift to real-time communication.

Monday, September 21, 2009


A couple trends we've seen popping up recently in society:

Loss of a filter
- South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson yelling "You lie!" during President Obama's speech to congress
- Kanye Interrupting Tayor Swift at the MTV VMAs
- Williams at the tennis match

Having the ability to broadcast our opinions the moment they are formulated in our heads has become easier than perhaps it should be. Taking the time to allow our consciousness to filter through our powerful words has been annihilated by our own expectations to stay current and react immediately.

Web: Integration through location
- The progression of map-based technology (such as geo-tagging) has allowed for online ads to incorporate a target's location into the message. We see, more and more, ads that directly link to maps showing where a brand's retail stores are near us.

Tools that brands provide online will be more useful and apply more to the user through this technology. One site for example, All for Good, uses IP Addresses and maps to help users find places to volunteer. Twitter is moving into geo-Tweeting. We will see this technology moving into all pieces of brand communication. Watch for over-lays on Youtube music videos that give you info about local music venues where that artist is playing.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

fitz goes to the MTV VMAs

A few FAQs about my experience going to the MTV Video Music Awards:

How’d you get in?
A friend had a ticket he couldn’t use. The funny thing is, it was through the Richard Brand fan club. Now, I’m not up on my U.K. pop-culture, so I didn’t know if that was a person or a brand called Richard. However, I am now in a photo somewhere describing me as a member of the Richard Brand fan club (if someone finds, please send!). Turns out Sir Brand was hosting the show. I found him annoying. Thanks for the ticket anyways Dick.

Where did you sit?

Hahaha. Hmmm. Ah Dick. You see, Richard was supposed to save seats for his beloved fan club, but that must have slipped his mind. The fifty of us lucky winners got into Radio City Music Hall and were dragged from one side of the theater to the other and back again, field trip style.

After a while of this I got fed up, saw an empty seat and jumped into it. What I did realize is that I had just hopped into the ‘seat filler’ section. Seat fillers, selected through submitting a photo to MTV, are placed throughout the theater where there is an empty seat or if someone decides to go to the bathroom.

I went from being a nomad to having a great seat. But no, I didn’t sit next to any celebrities. : )

Did you see any celebrities?

I did. Many. During the field trip portion of the experience, I walked past Beyoncee (gorgeous woman), the actress who plays Blair Waldorf walked by, Taylor Swift with a very hurt facial expression climbed down the stars by me and I was standing in Adam Brody’s way. There were also a few MTV reality TV show stars wandering around - the brunette model from NYC show with Whitney from ‘The Hills.’ Those were the closest encounters. Otherwise they were in and around the theater. As you can pry tell though, I don’t do celeb names well and thus a few familiar faces were lost on me.

Two things that jumped out at me:

The quality of the screen!! The screen hanging in the back of the stage from which they project all of the videos is amazing! Crystal-clear quality. I swear I’ve never seen better.

How vigorously the crowd booed and raised their 'thumbs-down' at every mention of Kanye’s name or his videos. I wasn't surprised at how pissed everyone was, just how strongly, quickly and frequently they were up in arms.

Photos from my phone:

If you have any other questions. Please feel free to submit. : )