— Björk & Microsoft team up with Ace Hotel in original, high-concept marketing venture.
Icelandic, avant-garde songstress and musical maverick Björk brings her unconventional eclecticism and flare for harmonic experimentalism to new, dynamic platforms. What at first seems like an unlikely collaboration, Björk brings ethereal choral arrangements from throughout her career to Sister City hotel (an Ace Hotel conglomerate) through a generative musical installation powered by Microsoft AI.
The installation builds off of Julianna Barwick’s 2019 smart-art piece for Sister City’s Lobby, but pushes the technology even further by charging the space with a virtual soundscape. The creatives behind Sister City were inspired by American experimental composer John Cage’s three-movement opus titled 4’33” that epitomized the controversial idea that any sound may constitute music (a reflection of the influence of Zen Buddhism). In this way, the hotel moguls are offering a uniquely lived philosophy through alternative, holistic design and curation through the built environment.
Evocative of Danish material anthropologist Dr. Mikkel Bille’s seminal ideas on assembling atmosphere, and the performative nature of building spaces, Sister City carves a niche for itself as embodied philosophy, embarking on utilizing the emotional intersections between people and places as an engine for identity branding; in particular, realizing the mutual interchange between emotionality, environment, and spatial and social landscapes.
Björk joins the project by melodically arranging the interconnectedness of all that is sensorially perceived, an impression utilized by Sister City as their overall high-concept branding strategy. By teaming up with Microsoft and Björk, Sister City pioneers an original marketing approach that redefines the stage as ubiquitous human encounter through experiential and multi-sensory immersion. Through the notion of aesthetic sustenance, rejecting excess, and fostering human connectivity, Sister City was conceived as a “new prototype for compassionate hospitality, where efficiency and beauty find union.”
Looking to forge a integrative haven, the NYC-based hotel curated a distinctive space inspired by the functional perfection of Finnish saunas, Japanese bento boxes, rock-cut prehistoric cliff dwellings, and John Cage’s 4’33”. Within these unique considerations, creative icon Björk crafts a ‘generative lobby score’ titled Kórsafn, an innovative musical narrative in partnership with Microsoft that utilizes AI technology to analyze images captured from Sister City’s rooftop camera in real time, triggering bursts of song as well as moments of absolute stillness, leading to a holistic track titled, “Listen to the Sky.”
By adopting a conceptual, fully immersive and experiential interaction between service and user, Sister City prompts a novel industry strategy that successful promotes an ethos rather than a reproduction. In this way, AI positions itself as a promising resource in dispersing innovative modes of branding within the service and hospitality landscape.
— Mamba & how branding philanthropic organizations can serve to raise awareness.
Amidst commemorative efforts that continue to pay tribute to basketball sensation Kobe Bryant’s life and unexpected passing, a social cause has surprisingly erupted as a source of lament across multiple social media platforms. An extension of Bryant’s death is seemingly a loss of his much-celebrated passion project – Mamba (or, Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation), a youth soccer club and philanthropic arm of the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation that teaches young athletes how to become leaders and independent thinkers through sports. The intentional spotlighting and digital circulation of Mamba (e.g. through hashtags, #mambamentality, #mamba4life, #mambaforever) exposes an era of social messaging as trend, particularly in this case, the ways economically marginalized youth are an all too forgotten demographic in America.
With public health concerns continuing to increase regarding childhood diabetes as an ever-growing epidemic, socio-political initiatives targeting childhood obesity, like Let’s Move! spearheaded by Michelle Obama, are central to ensuring nutrition and minority inclusivity among youth. With that said, youth-oriented social reform efforts on a mass scale paved the way for a new climate of community activism that sought to be appropriately marketed, distributed, and consumed.
Bryant’s active involvement and collaboration with Mamba Sports Academy points to the apparent impact potential of branding social change and capacity-building as a key form of strategic positioning and marketing. With a tagline of “Positive Impact Through Sports,” Mamba endeavors to promote its image through marketing philanthropy as a strategic undertaking in an epoch where change-making has never been more popular. Leveraging social media ‘influencer’ partnerships along with implementing the approach of digitally branding ideologies is a modern marketing phenomenon that stands to pick up speed.
— Beyond Burger® continues to steer the ship in the veggie patty grub wars.
With Hollywood superstar-turned-environmentalist Leonardo Dicaprio joining the latest ranks of entrepreneurial and philanthropical influencer-ship, what became apparent is an unexpected meeting of gastronomy and global sustainable development that has crept into the consumer market. What is sure to come the PLT (aka, plant, lettuce, tomato) hype is a vision for a new fake food economy, where the future of protein is a redefinition of meat itself. Here, genetic modification bypasses the general stigma behind GMO, and paradoxically poses itself successfully as a healthier, more environmentally conscious alternative.
In addition to consumptive trends aligning with a more socially responsible and awakened turn, the two major giants of faux food – Beyond Burger® and Impossible Foods® – continue to dominate; although, one seems to be gaining an edge in vendor preferences lately and has transformed into a high-profile celebrity darling. Beyond Meat® has already accumulated a coveted superstar fanbase, with DiCaprio pouring in major advocacy and investments (a venture not unlike that of Bill Gates, and Jay Z, among others) and has begun lauding its benefits on social media in the hopes of influencing an otherwise primarily meat-led western culinary palate.
Although, Beyond seems to be outranking its main competition in its purportedly ‘cleaner’ list of ingredients, claiming on its website:
THE WORLD'S FIRST PLANT-BASED BURGER THAT LOOKS, COOKS, AND SATISFIES LIKE BEEF WITHOUT GMOS, SOY, OR GLUTEN. FIND IT IN THE MEAT AISLE.™
In terms of ingredients, the two burgers are similar, except for their main protein source, with Beyond Meat® opting for pea instead of soy protein, and rejecting the use of soy leg-hemoglobin (or heme, Impossible’s key ingredient that gives their burgers the notorious “bleeding” quality). Whereas Impossible incorporates various (some claim potentially harmful) genetically modified products, Beyond touts the innovative use of more wholesome ingredients, like natural beet extract to derive the red color that gives their patties their signature “meat” quality. In fact, Beyond underwent a recent revamp, pledging an “even meatier” patty, adding the classic ‘marbling’ effect of actual ground beef, making it a more complete protein source by incorporating a new “blend of pea, mung, and rice proteins,” and a new look that starts out red and changes color (to brown) when cooked, due to an added extract from apple, which affects the overall, noticeable aesthetic without compromising flavor.
Beyond Burger® shows no signs of slowing down, hitting major grocery stores in NON-GMO packaging indiscernible from other traditional beef patty containers, and raking in a slew of national and regional restaurant chains, as well as locally trending LA-based resto-institutions in the vein of Stout Burgers & Beers, Plan Check Kitchen + Bar, Smashed Burger, and Founders Ale House.
Despite Beyond’s dismal performance in the stock market of late, which prompted early backer Bill Gates to partly (and quietly) cash out, it remains to be seen which of the two major alt-meat players will continue to reign as frontrunner in the ever-burgeoning plant-based meat industry.
— Online mega retail brand ASOS ushers in a new, interactive mode of user experience.
ASOS, a British online fashion and cosmetic retailer stockpiling well over 850 brands, is joining the body positivity (or, neutrality) movement by appealing to a wider, more inclusive demographic. In an era where beauty trends are beginning to align with a more ‘natural’ aesthetic, ASOS continues its goal of catering to a diversity of silhouettes, having been a brand that made a point to carry the widest range of sizes.
In an effort to continue its trend-blazing efforts, ASOS is now trialing an augmented reality (AR) tool that is geared toward altering current shopping habits. The tool, called ‘See My Fit,’ developed in partnership with Israeli AR company Zeekit, aims to support online shoppers by informing and empowering their purchasing decisions. Its methodology is to ultimately allow access to a simulated view of the various possibilities in which the item will look on bodies exhibiting different sizes and shapes.
Once a user has selected their preferred model, ‘See My Fit’ digitally maps the product onto the figure, bearing in mind the size, cut, and overall fit of each distinct garment, rendering the customized prototype a realistic and user-friendly depiction of a consumer’s pseudo-reflection.
ASOS’s decision to integrate a first-ever, personalized digital fitting room, sets the stage for industry competitors and marks a much-anticipated e-commerce experience.