Google’s self-driving car


Google unveiled a brand new self-driving car prototype on Tuesday; the first company to build a car with no a steering wheel, accelerator or brake pedal.

The car’s arrival marks the next stage in Google’s self-driving car project, which was born from the Darpa Grand Challenges for robotic vehicles in the early 2000s. Google kickstarted its own self-driving car project in 2008, and it has been rumbling on ever since, first with modified Toyota Prius and then with customised Lexus SUVs, which took the car’s existing sensors, such as the cruise-control cameras, and added a spinning laser scanner on the top.

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Samsung Rebrand Heathrow to Terminal S5 – Nokia respond tactically


Samsung-sized marketing budget buys airport-sized publicity stunts, as you may well notice if you fly to or from Heathrow this month. For two weeks, starting May 19th, the owners of the “world’s busiest terminal” have allowed Samsung, in partnership with JCDecaux, to re-brand all Terminal 5 signage at entrances, security points and gates as “Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5.”

Nokia responds tactically: Nokia employed Lumianauts to find the galaxy at Heathrow airport.All they found were a bunch of ads around Terminal Samsung Galaxy S5, so they had to go back home in their rover without getting launched into orbit.

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Tunepics, social network app works like a blend of iTunes and Instagram allowing users to post an image with a song


Tunepics is available for free today (22 May) on iPhone and iPad in more than 150 countries, with an Android version due to launch later this year. Users upload an image, pick a preview clip of a music track from the 35 million available on iTunes and spin an “emotional wheel” which lets them choose from an array of coloured emotions to display how they are feeling.

The app will not feature advertising to begin with and instead will be monetised through the tie-up with Apple. Tunepics will receive a cut from the revenue generated by users who listen to a clip on the app and go on to buy the full track on iTunes.

The partnership with Apple will also benefit Tunepics in terms of placement on the app store, helping to grow awareness of the app.

Brands already affiliated with the platform, which was created by AKQA, include Asos, Airbnb, Primark and AllSaints. Celebrities including Jamie Oliver, Kate Bosworth and have also signed up to use the platform.

Future developments planned for the app include a feature that will show what a whole country is feeling or listening to at the moment. A similar feature is available on the popular music discovery app Shazam.

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Dixons and Carphone agree 3.8 billion pound retail merger


Last week it was announced that two key retailers in the UK – Dixons Retail & Carphone Warehouse would join forces in a £3.8bn ‘merger of equals’.

This new group – to be named Dixons Carphone – would bring the Carphone Warehouse brand into the Dixons Retail family (alongside Curry’s and PC World) as they aim to exploit the ever-growing presence of smartphones in peoples’ lives and the “internet of things”- where household appliances are connected to the internet.

Carphone Warehouse will bring to the merger expertise in smartphones & tablets whilst Dixons will bring the range of electrical appliances to which envisage will be connected in this ‘internet of things’, in the face of more ‘smart’ features being built in to domestic appliances. They will also have a huge base of customer insights from combining their very sizable databases.

With the intention being to create “a leader in European consumer electrical, mobile, connectivity & related services”, OMG have investigated the countries that will see most effects from this merger:


–          In terms of country presence, Dixons will add over 500 stores and offers new territories in Scandinavia.

–          Last week, they announced they are selling off their Central European brand Electroworld based in the Czech Republic & Slovakia

–          They also have a presence in Greece with their Kotsolovos brand

Carphone Warehouse:

–          Nearly half of Carphone store estate (c. 2000 stores) is in the UK & Ireland

–          It also has sizeable estate in Spain, Portugal, Netherlands and Germany

–          They also currently have a presence in France although they have announced they were exiting from the region


Some critics have suggested Carphone is getting out at the top as the mobile market matures as operators are increasingly taking control of retail operations, indicating they may need this deal more than Dixons does. After all, Dixons has spent the last 30 years running down its high street estate.

Although Dixons will be able to leverage their multi-channel offer – including Click and Collect and Pay and Collect – with these additional central locations, one thing is for sure: Carphone Warehouse’s capabilities & buying in categories like tablets will be significantly enhanced.

As such, we would envisage UK, Eire & Northern Europe will see most in-store retail effects from this merger. They haven’t revealed their plans too much for store closures or restructuring in Europe and seem to have just concentrated on UK & Eire in their PR. Even so, the UK store portfolio seems unlikely to be cut in the shorter term as Curry’s/PC World stores are mainly out-of-town retail parks whereas Carphone Warehouse operations concentrate on high street locations

One plan they have released is the rolling out of a Dixons Carphone outlet in every Curry’s/PC World store to instantly communicate the “seamless offering” of mobile and connectivity without the expense of a huge marketing campaign.

Both companies have significantly improved on customer service as a differentiator in the past few years, with pretty much ubiquitous brand awareness. Dixons have their KnowHow customer support service helping to set up new devices and adding content and Carphone Warehouse currently have a similar GeekSquad service, with both likely to be combined as they will end up occupying each other’s turf.

Not so great news at HQ though as the merger will create £80m in annual cost savings, cuts being made on rents, jobs, marketing budgets and ad spend. Initial reaction has seen a share price drop (8% for CW, 10% for Dixons) despite these publicised reductions in outgoings, with forecasts of “better growth” being met with scepticism – the brick and mortar tech retail sector has not been a ‘growth’ area for some time.

Using their home ground of the UK as an example, it will be interesting to see how such a huge physical presence (equalling Tesco’s on stores) fits into the predicted ‘internet of things’ – ultimately it will be consumers who decide whether this takes off. Alongside the tougher negotiations for HTC, a wider availability of mobile retail points maybe advantageous in the short to medium term.

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Women could be the biggest market for wearable tech


Belinda Parmar, chief executive of tech consultancy Lady Geek, believes that women will be the biggest market for wearable tech. However, until now, development has been focused more on the tech, less on the wearable.

You cannot sell a bracelet in the same way that you’d sell a computer. That sounds too obvious, but it’s a mistake that just about every player in wearable tech seems to be making.

Wearable technology has not yet attracted a significant female following. It will be big – according to Juniper it will be be a $19bn industry by 2018. By this time established players will have built mass-market wearable brands. But how to get there?

While engineers and designers improve these products with every generation – the challenge faced by marketers is to communicate the value these devices bring, especially to women who have traditionally been the audience most interested with products which can be worn.

This year we’ve seen products that push technological boundaries, but tend to be either gimmicky (remote-controlled vibrating underwear) – or plain ugly and unfashionable.

Very few of these products specifically target women. Many of these products are designed as if fashion never existed.

The products unveiled at last month’s Mobile World congress did little to change this. The primary audience for these wearable fashion items is overwhelmingly young, “geeky” men – an audience which paradoxically tends not to be that interested in wearable things.


Selfridges launches fashion campaign with Google+ partnership


The campaign will form Selfridges’ biggest marketing investment of the year and will encompass digital and outdoor media, as well as in-store events and activities.

As part of the project, Selfridges will hold a programme of debates and talks about fashion. These debates will be hosted by a video blogger and streamed through Google+ Hangouts to allow customers who cannot attend in person to get involved.

There will also be a Google+ photo booth in store where customers can get their picture taken. Customer photos will be used in the window of the Selfridges Oxford Street store window and on the Selfridges website.

Customers will also be able to share their pictures on social media and encouraged to use the hashtag #beautyproject.

 The ad campaign features non-professional models and was shot by the German photographer Norbert Shoerner, working with the production company Kiosk Productions and stylist Sophia Neophitou-Apostolou.


Nivea leads big brands moving into wearables with a magazine-circulated bracelet

An interesting brand activation from Nivea that takes the emergent wearables trend and applies it to an existing issue for parents: namely looking after your kids on a busy beach.

Their ‘Sun Band’ was distributed via a relevant magazine to subscribers, with a call to action to download an app to sync with the simple tracking device attached to a ‘humidity-resistant’ paper band. 

While the practicalities of the product may not stand up to scrutiny in a real-world setting, it’s still an insightful, contemporary and literal extension of the idea that Nivea has your child’s well-being at heart and shows that it’s not just technology brands that can take advantage of digital developments.


Could Tinder be the next big marketing tool?

Tinder, the finger-swiping dating app, is looking to monetise its popularity through introducing native advertising, in a move described as “only a matter of time” by its owners.


IAC, which also own other sites including, Ask and Vimeo announced the decision at the company’s first quarter earnings call.

Greg Blatt, chairman of IAC’s Match group, said the nature of the Tinder user experience presents itself with “real opportunities for native advertising that certain of our other products don’t”.

Tinder’s presents an attractive audience with the majority of users being under 25, with user growth up 15% from February to March, an increase of 1,500% year on year

The app is also the 20th most-downloaded iOS app in the UK and the 2nd most popular lifestyle iOS app, according to the latest (29 April) data from app analytics site App Annie.

The company said it was growing to be a “very powerful, quickly built brand”.

Early footsteps were taken by some brands looking to promote themselves through the app, with US broadcaster Fox uploading fake profiles of the actors starring in its sitcom “The Mindy Project”, to encourage users to watch the programme. However, the tool hasn’t allowed advertising to become part of its membrane – until now.

Could marketers begin to adopt the dating tool, or will users and marketers alike be turned off and just swipe left?




YouTube beta testing a ‘premium’ video placement offering


With an increasing concern about what content brands are placing against within the slew of video’s available on the platform, YouTube is beta testing a ‘Google Preferred’ buying system that targets only the top 5% of videos.

Some big spending brands are already testing the service – J&J and Heineken among them – but Google admit that it is an “incredibly scarce offering” although one that is effective for big brands.

As the new generation of content viewers become the mainstream, YouTube will be a centre of consumption for both low-quality short form and high quality long form content. And with that it is only time that the platform offers prime-time TV levels of quality placements.


Google committed to being everywhere, all the time



Whilst Google Glass is still only just getting off the ground, the larger Google entity is looking to patent another type of eye-orientated wearable: an augmented contact lens. 

Whilst this is still a way off in all stretches of the imagination, the eventual product will allow photos to be taken with the blink (or two) of an eye and even aid the visually impaired by sending an audio message to the wearer alerting them of danger, such as traffic.

Implications are even more fraught/fascinating than the Google Glass platform, with ‘vision hacking’ a real option as implication and – equally as important – what will happen to the selfie? But this does, along with their robotics purchases recently, demonstrate how far in the future they are looking to secure their place within consumers lives.