The Swirl: November 14, 2016

Sorry, we couldn't help ourselves.

In the spirit of giving the people what they want, let's get down to it. In this week's edition, we've got: breaking the addiction, a new kind of showroom, and the true meaning of community.


Mannequin (n.) - a dummy used to display clothes in a store window. Also a trend taking over the internet.

It started with ice buckets for ALS, and in recent months we've seen bread facing, the running man, and the bun drop. Now, there's a new internet trend in town. The mannequin challenge. What is it? Pretty much what you'd expect: a group of people striking a dramatic pose. All while Rae Sremmurd's new song "Black Beatles" blares in the background. It started with the cool high school kids, but has since made its way into mainstream pop culture - catching on with sports teams, TV studios, brand headquarters, and politicians.


We're going to go out on a limb and guess you're reading this email on your mobile phone, maybe even as your wipe the sleep from your eyes in the comfort of your bed. And as the statistics show it, you're by far not the only one. By 2017, the number of smartphone users in the US will creep up to 229 million and nearly half of those admit they reach for their devices first thing after hitting the alarm. Guilty as charged.

Here to our rescue? Enter: GoPro. In their first scripted TV ad, the brand is setting out to break the bad habit of stopping what we're doing to capture what we're doing by doing it for us. The message? Don't let your phone keep you from getting out there and doing - whether your definition of “doing” is jumping off of cliffs or playing with your kids. Brilliant.

With the same insight, but a different execution altogether, two advertising creatives funded and created the NoPhone - a completely unusable plastic rectangle, shaped like a phone. Partially a joke, partially not. After realizing dates were being ruined, concerts were being distracted, and sidewalks were being clogging, the two created a “device” that acts as a surrogate for your real phone. That's surely one way to break the addiction.


There's no denying that the smartphone fixation is real, and that it's quite literally changed the way we operate. And while this hand held technology has made our lives easier and more convenient, in many ways it has inhibited us from truly living in the moment. Exhibit A. What GoPro has done is recognize this prevalent problem in consumer behavior, and insert themselves quite nicely as the solution. They're marketing strategically both to current GoPro users and potential customers with the promise of capturing a more raw, emotional experience over just what you see from standing on the sidelines.

So, whether your team GoPro or team NoPhone, can we all agree to put it down? At least for a little? Challenge of the week: find time to disconnect and engage with the people around you. You'll thank us later.


Ikea has always been known for their showrooms. They brilliantly set up their products so that you instantly want more. Sofas, side tables, decorations. Everything just looks so good together. They've mastered the store experience, and while many might think it's only a way to increase sales, they surprised everyone a couple of weeks ago. Instead of filling a room with beautiful home goods, they featured a replica of a real Syrian home. More than that, the posters and price tags around the room tell the story of a typical Syrian family's plight. Like lack of food, medicine, and clean water. Why? The display was part of a collaboration with Red Cross. Together, they wanted to raise money to help efforts in Syria. Turns out they did. After over 40,000 visitors each week, Ikea closed the effort with 22 million euros in donations.


There's never a wrong way to raise awareness, but if you want to rack up donations, Ikea is a good example to pull from. There's a reason they raised that much money by replicating a room in only one store. It has something to do with those things called emotions. The room creates an experience where you can actually see, touch, and feel what the crisis is like. No matter how emotional mailers, videos, or images are, there's nothing like actually experiencing it. The issue suddenly becomes so clear and understandable. It's hard to walk away without taking action. And we're so glad that the majority of people followed through. Thanks Ikea for reminding us that even if you're comfortable in your own home, there's someone out there that could use a little help.


We're sure everyone has seen their fair share of political views, opinions, and backlash this week. Typically political ads come to a screeching halt with Election Day, but this year they still seem to be going strong. Several brands have taken this past week to tap into the conversations floating around. After reading and watching A LOT of them, here's what we know: there's a right way and a wrong way to address sensitive issues. The brands that took an explicit side are feeling the pain. Or should we say burn? That's right - people are actually burning their New Balance shoes as a result of their statement. Eek, lesson learned. But it's not all bad news. The brands that focused on coming together, rather than taking separate sides, are doing pretty well. Take Airbnb for example. They leveraged tension to communicate their mission for community commitment. #winning


Apologies if the political talk is on your last nerve, but there's a more important lesson to be learned here: it's hard to go wrong with brand relevance. We know timely content works, but only if it fits with your brand. Airbnb's notion of community is sincere and true. It speaks to who they are as a brand, and who they want to be. And they crafted it in a way that was more about them as a company than political parties. We'll take a good guess that they'll see more business results than New Balance. Until next time.


ICYMI, Snapchat's got a new feature on the market. Introducing, Snapchat Spectacles - an attempt to bring the Snapchat experience into the real world. Jury's out on if this will legitimately catch on, but the Snapbots where you can retrieve a pair of glasses are really stinkin' cute. Definitely no denying that.