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TheCurrent Debate: Is there real value in CGI models?

Balmain CGI Models
Balmain CGI Models

CGI models are having a moment in luxury fashion right now, but it’s up for debate as to whether they hold true value for the brands embracing them, according to the latest episode of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent.

Co-hosts Liz Bacelar and Rachel Arthur, who discuss various technologies pertinent to the industry every month on this show, bring opposing viewpoints to the table.

Listen here: Apple Podcasts | Android | Google Play | Stitcher | RSS

CGI or virtual models have been used in fashion advertising campaigns to an increasing degree over the past few years, with big name brands including Louis VuittonPrada and Balmain all employing them. Some of those involved, including one called Lil Miquela, and another named Shudu, have generated enormous buzz and impressively large social media followings as a result, as though they were indeed influencers in their own right.

Lil Miquela for UGG
Lil Miquela for UGG

Most recently, Lil Miquela featured in UGG’s 40th anniversary campaign, blending in seamlessly alongside two real-life influencers as though she were a natural part of the cast. For the unsuspecting onlooker, it’s not immediately clear she’s not.

One of the questions raised during the episode is whether such a move is merely about gaining from some of the hype such models currently present, or if they can in fact drive ROI for the brands making use of them long term. Rachel presents some interesting statistics that show how engagement of for CGI remains significantly lower than any example of a ‘human’ influencer, but Liz counters that view with the argument that what we’re looking at here is a form of artistic expression.

The duo also dive into what such flawless representations of women mean for beauty ideals in the era of fake news we currently live in, as well as the notion that we may all have a CGI or avatar version of ourselves in the future, not least the real life influencers who could ultimately gain increased revenue opportunities for themselves, even posthumously.

Catch up with all of our episodes of the Innovators podcast by TheCurrent here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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Campaigns Editor's pick

Dove introduces no-distortion labelling across all imagery

Dove “No Digital Distortion Mark”

Dove has introduced the “No Digital Distortion Mark” to represent when an image has not been retouched, as it furthers its approach of representing beauty in an authentic aesthetic.

From July onwards the Mark will be rolled out across all branded content globally, with deodorant campaigns first.

The brand says that by January 2019, the mark will be incorporated across all static imagery showcasing women, including print, digital and social. With the initiative, Dove hopes to showcase women in their most realistic setting and reassure girls and women consuming media content that there is no such thing as a beauty standard.

“When content in the media is not reflective of reality, it has a profound negative effect on the viewer,” says Jess Weiner, cultural expert and adjunct professor at University of Southern California (USC) Annenberg School of Journalism, in the press release from the brand. “By viewing unrealistic and unachievable beauty images it creates an unattainable goal which leads to feelings of failure. This is especially true of young girls who have grown up in a world of filters and airbrushing.”

Moreover, Dove’s strides towards realistic representation of women in media is backed by research that the brand has conducted in this field. According to the 2016 Dove Global Beauty and Confidence report, 77% of women believe that all images in the media have been digitally altered or airbrushed, while 69% of women cited the pressures for advertising and beauty to reach such unrealistic beauty standards play a major role in driving appearance anxiety.

The Mark is a continuation of Dove’s Real Beauty Pledge announced in 2017, in which the brand publicly recommitted to only portraying accurate representations of women and beauty. “Last year, we pledged to use images with zero digital distortion,” says Dove’s global vice president, Sophie Galvani. “This year, we want to go one step further and give women a tool to help them understand what is real and what isn’t. The Mark will take help women identify reality and relieve some of the pressure to look a certain way.”

Dove “No Digital Distortion Mark”

The new announcement also sits under the Self-Esteem Project umbrella, which was launched by the brand in 2004 and highlighted a commitment to reaching 40 million young people globally with body confidence and self-esteem education by 2020. Among the education element is the topic of how to counter the negative influence of media, with the hopes to not only teach consumers to be more aware and critical of what they see, but also push other brands to take action in accurate representation.

“Through the work of the Dove Self-Esteem project, we teach children to question what they see in the media and not to take everything at face value,” said Dr. Phillippa Diedrichs, body image expert and consultant to the brand. “However, the responsibility shouldn’t solely be on the viewer. Brands can do more to showcase reality and take this unnecessary pressure away. By doing so, we can have a positive impact on the lives of young girls.”

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Editor's pick social media technology

Tommy Hilfiger continues digital content push with connected motorsport show experience

TommyNow Drive SS18 - gigi hadid Tommy Hilfiger
TOMMYNOW DRIVE SS18

Tommy Hilfiger launched a “behind the drive” experience as part of the digital content driving its spring 2018 TOMMYNOW DRIVE show; in doing so adding a layer of immersive storytelling to the motorsport-themed proceedings.

Guests at the Milan Fashion Week show could scan QR codes that allowed them access to exclusive video and photo content, such as the evolution of the capsule collection and the process of developing an actual Formula 1 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport racing car.

The motorsport theme was a tribute to Tommy’s long time love of racing, and a partnership with Formula 1 World Champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport. It was also the theme of the brand’s latest TommyxGigi capsule collection with supermodel Gigi Hadid – a celebration of speed, from Tommy’s love of racing to Gigi’s fast-paced lifestyle.

The occasion marked the brand’s fourth in-season runway show, building upon its now signature see-now, buy-now format. All runway looks were available to buy immediately on shoppable channels across 70 countries.

There were also various other connected content experiences. As with previous seasons, the TOMMYNOW SNAP app was employed, using 2D and 3D image recognition technology so users could take a photo of any item (in store, online, on the runway or on the street) and shop it instantly at Tommy.com. For spring 2018, the TOMMYNOW SNAP app was also able to recognize any men’s or women’s style and present behind-the-scenes footage of the item’s deign process.

The TOMMYNOW DRIVE F1 race simulator
The TOMMYNOW DRIVE F1 race simulator

The 2,000 plus guests were otherwise immersed into TOMMYNOW DRIVE in real-life as well; entering through a futuristic tunnel and portrait station, while being surrounded by real racing sound effects and LED light installations. Guests could also experience an F1 race simulator and an F1 pit stop challenge.

The brand also continued to offer its AI-powered chatbots, TMY.BOY and TMY.GRL, on Facebook messenger, providing celebrity styling advice through video content of influencers sharing their favorite collection looks.

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Campaigns

Fendi enlists six artists to makeover HQ rooftop

The Ring of the Future, Fendi
The Ring of the Future, Fendi

Fendi has enlisted six global street artists to transform its HQ rooftop in Rome, Italy, in celebration of the one year anniversary of its “F is For…” online communications platform aimed at millennials.

Artists hailing from the US to Korea got together to write the word “Future” in their own native language, creating a ring that represents inclusion and diversity, titled The Ring of the Future.

To celebrate the launch, Fendi has also launched its first “F is For…” product, a genderless t-shirt sold exclusively at its online store.

The “F is For…” hub can be accessed via Fendi.com, with content split into five different verticals: Freaks, explaining the platform’s vision; Fulgore, featuring fashion editorials shot entirely on the iPhone 7; Faces, introducing models and other members of the brand’s ‘young crew’; Freedom, listing places to eat, drink and have fun; and Fearless, introducing new art and music.

In the physical world, “F is For…” is also hosting events, parties and fashion shows, while hoping to establish Rome, its hometown, as a fashionable location.

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data mobile

Badgley Mischka teams up with SAP to launch live NYFW app

Badgley Mischka SS18
Badgley Mischka SS18

American label Badgley Mischka is partnering with enterprise software company SAP to launch a live and interactive app for guests of their upcoming show at New York Fashion Week.

The partnership aims to highlight the evolving relationship between fashion and technology, and how designers rely on the latter to quickly understand and respond to consumer needs.

Available from today (February 9), the app will enable audience members to interact in real-time with the collection, as models walk down the runway. The app will feature details on each look as they come out, with users able to vote whether they ‘like’ or ‘love’ it. All data is relayed live to the designers backstage, and after the show will help inform production and design decisions.

“Fashion is a fast-paced industry — not just during fashion week, but year-round,” said Mark Badgley, co-founder and designer of Badgley Mischka. “Through our work with SAP at New York Fashion Week, we are excited to be receiving real-time insights about our collection from industry insiders and consumers, which will ultimately help us bring these looks to market.”

Following the show on February 13, SAP will host a panel, titled “Demystifying Digital: The Future of Fashion Is Now”, which will discuss how the intersection between fashion and technology will help more effectively reach digitally-connected consumers.

“How brands connect and engage directly with consumers creates the greatest opportunity for business in the 21st century,” said Jen Morgan, executive board member of global customer operations at SAP. “SAP is at the center of helping companies meet this challenge, and we’re thrilled to partner with an iconic brand like Badgley Mischka to showcase how our innovations are shaping the future of retail and connecting businesses, consumers and designers alike.”

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e-commerce Editor's pick social media

Refinery29 and The Outnet.com unveil immersive and interactive pop-up holiday shop in London

#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London
#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London

Refinery29 has partnered with The Outnet.com to open a festive and immersive pop-up in London with a window that resembles a human-sized snow globe.

Visitors to “All Decked Out” are invited to step into the bespoke window display where various pictures are taken to make their own GIF. The setup evolves throughout the 10-days of the activation with different seasonal themes.

Inside there are also other interactive activities including an arcade grab machine stocked with discounts and gifts, and various Facebook Live sessions featuring influencers and Refinery29 editors. There’s also a mini shop area from The Outnet.com.

“We are constantly looking for the most exciting ways we can speak with – and listen to – our audience. Immersive events continue to be one of the best avenues for Refinery29 to connect with women around the world, so to work with The Outnet.com to use art as inspiration and to reimagine the timeless tradition of unveiling holiday windows while we directly engage women is an ideal opportunity for us all,” said Kirsty Hathaway, Refinery29’s creative director of Europe.

#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London
#AllDeckedOut from The Outnet.com and Refinery29 in London

Andres Sosa, The Outnet.com’s executive vice president, added: “With the busiest shopping season of the year now well underway, it felt only appropriate to bring traditional Christmas windows to life through this interactive experience. This partnership gives new and existing customers the chance to experience the brand first hand.”

This is the latest in a growing list of live activations from Refinery29, following the huge success of “Power Mouth” with Nars, along with “29Rooms”, the company’s acclaimed immersive exhibition of style, culture, and technology which launches on December 7 in Los Angeles following a sold-out run in New York.

The All Decked Out pop-up space was created by set designer George Lewin. It is open from Friday, December 8 through Sunday, December 17 at 15 Bateman Street in Soho.

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Editor's pick film

Six of the best animated ads this Christmas

Barbour's Christmas 2017 ad: The Snowman and the Snowdog
Barbour’s Christmas 2017 ad: The Snowman and the Snowdog

Over the past decade, UK department store John Lewis has established itself as a source of eagerly anticipated Christmas adverts. Intensely human in their application, it’s the emotion they engender that wins over the hearts of the nation time and time again.

What’s interesting however is that often they’re not really focused on the humans in them at all. Nearly all of them have equally included some level of CGI or animated work, from bears to foxes, snowmen to penguins. This year, it’s a monster living under the bed called Moz and the tale of his unlikely friendship with a young boy that’s generating millions of views.

Whether you like this particular iteration or not, there’s no denying John Lewis’s impact in the space. This year, there are more animated ads than ever; many of them likewise focused on some warm and fuzzy feelings.

Read on for a round-up of six other animated ads that have caught our eye…


Barbour


Barbour continues its partnership with The Snowman and The Snowdog for the second year, introducing a short campaign that follows young boy Billy into adulthood with his family. Included are his wife, his daughter and the now elderly dog, as well as the returning snowman himself. Original footage from the animated film, which was released in 2012 to mark the 30-year anniversary of The Snowman, is featured in the ad alongside 45 seconds of new content.


Tiffany & Co


This animated ad follows a wooden artist’s mannequin in a snowy landscape discovering various Tiffany & Co products in the snow; a diamond encrusted key, a ring adorning a tree and a bracelet around a rabbit’s neck. Throughout the tale, a big snowball is rolling around, eventually doing so over the mannequin until it breaks apart to reveal the best gift of all; the classic Tiffany blue box.


David Jones


This documentary style campaign from Australian department store David Jones, follows an animated gingerbread man as he leaves his home for a backpacking adventure, collecting gifts for his family along the way. He travels through London, Paris and New York, before being knocked over by a dog and falling into pieces. However, hope is not lost, as a confectioner finds and reassembles the traveller, and sends him home where he and his family embrace within the window of the storefront in Sydney. The David Jones Christmas windows are always eagerly awaited in Australia, and this advert cleverly revealed their theme.


Jigsaw


This fully animated ad from UK store Jigsaw follows the story of two neighbours who leave gifts anonymously for each other every Christmas under the tagline “Together through the years”. One year however, the boy, now fully grown, goes to leave a gift at his neighbour’s house and finds she no longer lives there. Fortunately she returns to deliver him his present and tell him where she has moved. Soon he is at her new door with another gift of his own. The closing line for this advert is “Be together this Christmas”.


Christian Louboutin


In this playful advert from Christian Louboutin, when a female homeowner leaves her house, all of the baubles on her tree magically come to life. They dance around the tree unwrapping gifts and playing with what is inside (including various Louboutin gifts). When they hear her getting home they then hastily fix up the decorations and jump back into place just as she enters to see all of her shoes unwrapped and adorning her tree.


Marks & Spencer


M&S presented a family-oriented campaign this year based on a story about Paddington Bear the night before Christmas. Tied into the launch of the Paddington 2 film, this exclusive tale sees the young bear accidentally discovering a burglar (and mistaking him for Father Christmas), then going from house to house redelivering the stolen gifts.

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Editor's pick film

Prada returns with sequel of The Postman Dreams short movie series

Elijah Wood in Prada's new The Postman Dreams 2 film series
Elijah Wood in Prada’s new The Postman Dreams 2 film series

Prada has released a second series of short movies written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Autumn de Wilde for the holiday season.

The Postman Dreams 2, which hones in on the Prada Galleria bag, is a follow up to the series of the same name and Prada’s first project with de Wilde, which debuted in 2015. This time around it sees four humorous and whimsical films, the first two of which have already been released – The Bogey and The Troublemaker.

Hollywood actor Elijah Wood stars as the postman in each, but the real protagonist is indeed the bag, which features as a key plot-point in all of the creative work, as well as the thread that ties the four together.

In The Bogey, for instance, actress Emma Roberts plays herself being interrupted on set by the postman delivering her Galleria bag. The title is drawn from the Hollywood vernacular for an individual breaching the set and walking through a shot while the camera is rolling. Wood therefore is indeed the unwitting bogey on this occasion.

In the second, Wood is in pursuit of Sasha Frolova in order to give her the gift, resulting in a hot chase around a stadium to do so. Drawing on the screwball comedies of the 1930s, Prada refers to this as an absurdist cat-and-mouse game.

“These films are a fantasy to be indulged. A gift to be enjoyed,” reads the write-up, referring to de Wilde’s work as offering a touch of daydream and moments of pure surreal wit.

“De Wilde devises her own imaginary vistas and mise en scène, inspired not just by her own obsessions but those of others. Desire, pleasure, eventual satisfaction – these are the underlying themes of these non-sequential, fabulist chapters,” the team explains.

The last two episodes, which are coming soon, are called The Punch and The Elevator.

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e-commerce mobile social media

Alexa Chung’s Villoid expands; opens up stores for influencers

Villoid
Villoid

Alexa Chung is expanding her fashion app, Villoid, into a place for “hyper curated” shopping by enabling style influencers to sell directly to their fans through their own web stores.

From December 1, a new shop owner is being announced everyday, starting with Chung herself. The initiative takes heed of the fact 92% of consumers reportedly trust an influencer over an advert, according to Forbes.

Each individual style maven showcased will fill their digital rail with the products they love and wear from the 4,000 brands that Villoid stocks.

“Looking for an Xmas party outfit? Head into Poppy Delevingne’s dress section. Lusting after that printed tee you saw Gia Coppola wear on Instagram? It’s there in her shop,” the write-up reads.

“I’m so excited to be launching this next phase of VILLOID alongside some incredible women with enviable taste – some are friends, some I just stalk and others are people I’m sure you’ll come to know and love. I’m intrigued to see what they do with their shops and look forward to sharing this journey with you all,” Chung commented.

Villoid CEO and co-founder, Karin Kaellman, added: “In the two years since our launch, we have developed a strong international brand, a solid tech platform, a stream of magnificent brands applying to become part of our ecosystem – and most importantly a warm community of women of all ages, persuasions and locations. It was only natural that we strap on our working gloves and build this new angle to our platform – to give our fans what they’ve been calling for – an accessible, personalised and hyper curated shopping experience with a nifty buy button. Killing three birds with one stone, we simultaneously allow style influencers to side-step the typical hassles of opening their own stores from scratch, and allow brands to be authentically and organically endorsed by some of the most stylish ladies on the planet.”

Villoid now has users in over 180 countries, with the average one spending 20 minutes a day on the app – the same as Instagram. ?

One of the continuing focuses for the platform will be on emerging design talent. Villoid has run its “Emerge” programme with the British Fashion Council since 2016; supporting young designers by giving them exposure through the platform.

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e-commerce mobile social media technology

You can now get beauty tips from Amazon Alexa, thanks to Wunder2

The Beauty Tips skill on Amazon Alexa from Wunder2
The Beauty Tips skill on Amazon Alexa from Wunder2

Wunder2, the cosmetics company behind viral eyebrow product, WunderBrow, has launched an Amazon Alexa skill to provide voice-based beauty tips to consumers.

The initiative offers users access to current beauty trends, insights on great make-up hacks and details on products to buy.

To activate it, consumers ask Alexa what the “beauty tip of the day” is. The artificial intelligence platform will then respond with tips from make-up artists such as how to create flawless brows or how to get a holiday party look. The tips update daily.

“Our decision to develop on Alexa goes back to our roots as founders – which are within digital advertising and tech,” says CEO and co-founder Michael Malinsky.

“We are amazed by the way voice technology can add convenience and seamlessly improve daily tasks, routines and decisions. We have made a meaningful impact in the colour cosmetic space by introducing products that are innovative and technologically advanced, and feel that what we’ve learned about our products, and about using them, can and should be shared conveniently.”

Soon Alexa will also send videos that correspond to the tips so users can see them visually on their phones, computer screens, or even TV, the team added.

Users can also conveniently choose and buy Wunder2 products, which are top sellers on Amazon, just by continuing to chat with Alexa.