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Putting Down Your Smartphone for Ten Minutes Can Help Get Clean Water to a Child in Need

2009_03_tap_projectSome creative campaigns have been popping up around the idea of breaking our all-encompassing smartphone habit; brands from Coca-Cola to Ikea have touted the importance of being present in our non-virtual lives. Now, UNICEF is giving us a tangible reason to step away from our phones for a few minutes (in case reconnecting with loved ones, nature, and the real world in general weren’t compelling enough prospects).

As part of its annual “Tap Project” effort to bring clean drinking water to those most in need, UNICEF, in partnership with Droga5 and MediaVest, has launched a new campaign via its website UnicefTapProject.org. When you visit the site on your mobile phone, you’ll be able to follow a few simple instructions on how to proceed. Once you begin, for every minute that you don’t touch your phone, the project’s sponsors will fund clean water for needy kids worldwide. Just ten minutes of inactivity is enough to provide one day’s worth of water. Read more

Mediabistro Course

Storytelling for Media Professionals

Storytelling for Media ProfessionalsStarting April 22, this in-person workshop will teach you the specific ways to incorporate storytelling into your personal and professional life. Students will examine the role of storytelling in business and put their newfound skills into practice with a series of improvisation, writing, and presentation exercises designed to help them uncover personal stories. Register now! 

Most PRs Would Like To Have This Problem: ‘Flappy Bird’ Shut Down Because It Got Too Popular

flappy birdWith no promotion and little development, the mobile game “Flappy Bird” became a huge hit, getting downloaded 50 million times and making $50,000 per day in ad revenue. Dong Nguyen, a Vietnam-based developer, says he created the game in two to three days. And he was clearly caught off guard by the success of the game. Having a bit of a meltdown on Twitter, he announced this weekend that he was pulling the game.

“I am sorry ‘Flappy Bird’ users, 22 hours from now, I will take ‘Flappy Bird’ down,” Nguyen tweeted on Saturday. “I cannot take this anymore.”

Being popular is a problem most PRs would like to have. So how can they get this problem too? We have one theory.

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Alicia Keys’ Last Day As BlackBerry’s Global Creative Director Is January 30

alicia keysBlackBerry, in its continuing efforts to stem the tide of losses and reinvent itself in a hyper-competitive mobile market, has decided that it no longer needs the global creative director services of Alicia Keys. It was announced yesterday that January 30 will be her last day, one year after the company made a big show of appointing her to the role.

The move comes as BlackBerry looks to rebuild its customer base as the device of choice for businesses. In all honesty, with the exception of a few ads and promotional materials, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what all Keys did during the course of that year. Which isn’t really an indictment of Keys or even BlackBerry. It just goes back to the basic question of why a company chooses a celeb to be the face of its brand.

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Virgin Mobile Celebrated July 4th By Unleashing A Bunch Of Ben Franklins All Over NYC

If you were in New York City last weekend, you had an advanced July 4th celebration with a slew of Benjamin Franklins, thanks to Virgin Mobile. The mobile company let loose 100 Benjamins to drum up attention for its special deal — they’re offering $100 to anyone who switches carriers through July 7. Personally, we kind of forgot that this was a Virgin Mobile clip about 20 seconds in, but that could be because we’re drunk on Independence Day joy.

via @becktold

Virgin Mobile has been upping its game over the past few weeks, adding the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Ring to its offerings. However, the latter doesn’t have 4G, so meh on that.

Separately, but truly in the spirit of the day, the Statue of Liberty reopened today, months after it shut due to damage from Superstorm Sandy. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony this morning, and we’ve seen a lot of pics and hoopla popping up on Twitter. Nearby Ellis Island remains closed.

We pulled the snapshot at right from Tom Becktold, Business Wire’s SVP of marketing. Very cool.

EBay To Offer Actual Window Shopping On Vacant NYC Storefronts

Starting June 8, people walking down certain streets in New York City will be able to stop, turn and start window shopping.

“Hey,” you’re thinking, “can’t people do that already?” Yeah sure, but it’s not an eBay window! Derp. What does that even mean? It means every gimmick has a chance when it’s artfully done.

EBay is taking over four empty storefronts across downtown Manhattan on which people will be able to purchase any or all of 30 items presented from the new Kate Spade Saturday line. This is happening until July 7.

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Kids Gain an Early Edge with Digital Toys

While children are finicky regarding their toy and game preferences, their fascination with everything digital remains constant. Ever since iPads were introduced, parents have had to share their tablets with their offspring or buy them separate devices.

The latest digital toys were on display at Timetoplaymag.com’s spring media showcase event in New York on Tuesday. They feature QR codes, 3-D, augmented reality and gaming, which are similar to those found in grownups’ devices. Digital toys like these could also serve as background props for agency creative brainstorming sessions.

  • Scanimalz: This newly launched line of plush interactive animal characters from Scandinavia is for boys and girls aged 5 to 10. They’re collectible, and include a series of colorful characters. Customers buy the Scanimalz mobile app and each character separately. Then they scan a QR code to unlock, play with the character and earn Scantz points.
  • Drip Drops: The brand’s Color the World app transforms pre-schoolers’ mobile devices into coloring books. It incorporates 3D animation and augmented reality and also features different characters. The app enables users to turn the items being colored inside out and flip them around. They can also take photos and share them with friends on social media.
  • ArtSee Studio: This recently introduced “art creation studio” is for kids 3 years and older, and comes with an app, an iPad case that serves as an easel and a toolkit with a stylus, rainbow crayon for drawing and several colorful stamps. Proud parents can either save their kids’ masterpieces, print or share them on social platforms.

Perhaps if similar creative digital tools were available during former President George W. Bush’s childhood, he might have discovered his penchant for painting earlier in life and gravitated to a career in art instead of politics.

How CNN and Wired Leverage Timing, Location and Serendipity to Push Content

An eccentric tech entrepreneur turned fugitive, an abrupt change in the papacy, a Japanese tsunami – the fact that each of these stories dominated the news for days and drove a whole lot of traffic confirms that content still reigns supreme. But since every big-news scenario is different, figuring out the optimal timing, location and platforms for presenting it to the public remains an ongoing challenge for media brands.

At MPA‘s recent Swipe 2.0 conference in New York, media presenters including CNN and Wired, discussed tablets and other new digital platforms to help get the message out. CNN’s reps explained their system for categorizing video content, while Wired offered a gripping account of how their reporting on tech security pioneer John McAfee factored into the unfolding odyssey.

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T-Mobile Partners with Major League Baseball, Hawks Opening Day Tickets

T-Mobile Major League Baseball PartnershipWhile scrolling through my Twitter feed this morning, the first thing to jump out at this Boston Red Sox fan (Did I just alienate half our readers? Hello? Are you still there?) was a promoted tweet from T-Mobile that read:

Intrigued, I followed the link to a sweepstakes-entrance Facebook page run by T-Mobile, which announces in the wireless provider’s familiar pink, white, and black: “T-Mobile takes the field as the official wireless partner of Major League Baseball.” At first, still in my early morning/longing-for-baseball-season stupor, I just scrolled down to check out the entrance form. A few sips of tea later, the PR-oriented part of my brain kicked in and said, “Wait, what?”

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Puma Combines Modern, Retro Technologies to Entice Customers

A rotary-style phone wasn’t the device that led to the unraveling of the David Petraeus ‘Spyfall’ affair, but talking the old-fashioned way certainly would have been a wiser choice than communicating by email.

The retro bright red phone shown here isn’t intended for illicit correspondence–it’s a platform designed by Puma to entertain and inform the brand’s customers at select retail locations worldwide.

Adam Petrick, Puma’s senior global head of brand management, explained how Puma sought to “make our stores more like our brand” during a presentation at the ANA Mobile Marketing conference on Wednesday in New York.

According to Petrick, Puma is an “irreverent challenger brand that makes high performance sports products” and retains underdog status when competing with giants like Nike and Adidas. Still, the company’s association with Olympic gold medal-winning Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt has certainly aided its marketing efforts.

In order to gain traction in the retail realm, Petrick and Puma tried to “instill a sense of fun in our use of technology”. Here’s a sample of the company’s in-store gadgets and their attention-getting names:

Unsmart’ phones: According to Petrick, the classic red rotary phones like the one pictured above are simply there to “make customers smile”. When visitors pick up the receivers, they hear short audio clips on various topics (not clandestine messages or instructions to report to secret locations).

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Pulse News App Bets the Farm on Sponsored Content

In the era of brand journalism, we talk a lot about “editorial”, “earned” and “sponsored” content–and the respective value of each. Now, leading news app maker Pulse plans to turn the dominant revenue model on its head by relying exclusively on sponsored content for its advertising dollars.

It’s a bold move that reflects the growing influence of branded materials as the line between PR and editorial grows ever fainter.

The company’s primary rival, Flipboard, made headlines as the first app to bring “glossy print-style ads to the iPad”, and Pulse just made a big move in the opposite direction. Their explanation? Mobile is a brave new world for brands, and betting on the success of traditional banner-style promos would amount to “short-term thinking”—however tempting it might be in the moment.

The fact that big-name publishers began pulling their full-page ads from Flipboard this summer strengthens Pulse’s case, because the publishers who dropped out mentioned the downsides of sharing revenue with a third party and noted that they would make more money with traditional banner ads. They also believe that, by partnering with Flipboard, they are discouraging readers from using their own sites and apps.

Publishers who work with Pulse don’t just get increased exposure; they also get a cut of the ad revenue earned “if a sponsored post runs within their content feed or if they bring the advertiser to Pulse”. The fact that advertisers pay on a “cost-per-read basis” is undeniably appealing as well.

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