Your weekly helping of five interesting ideas to take you into the weekend. Curated by Good Business and delivered straight to your inbox first thing on a Friday, if you subscribe here.
(1) Selfie Shopping
Mastercard is rolling out technology that will enable online shoppers to verify their identity using selfies instead of the password currently required at point of purchase. With the new MasterCard Identity Check, shoppers will confirm payments either by placing a finger on the scanner of their smartphone or by blinking into its front-facing camera to prove their identity. Financial organisations are increasingly experimenting with biometrics as a more secure and convenient alternative to passwords — easily forgotten or stolen — and Mastercard is banking on the hope that this new system will easily catch-on amongst consumers used to using their front-facing phone camera for Snapchat, Skype and Facetime. The system was designed to increase the number of merchant retail sales as more than a third of consumers abandon an online purchase simply because they’ve forgotten a relevant password. This is therefore a great example of an initiative that ticks lots of boxes: assuaging security concerns while improving both customer experience and Mastercard’s bottom line.
(2) Superhumans Found
Mars has launched a new campaign for the Paralympics that champions diversity and disability. The series of three television ads fall under the brand’s #LookOnTheLightSide banner and feature disabled actors celebrating universally awkward situations, such as embarrassing moments with new boyfriends and bad behaviour at weddings. The brand worked closely with disability charity Scope to ensure the ads reflected reality and each spot is based on a real-life story from a disabled person. The campaign is the result of a Channel 4 initiative, ‘Superhumans Wanted’, that offered up £1 million of commercial airtime and an exclusive launch spot in the first break of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony to the brand or agency that came up with the best idea for a campaign prominently featuring disability and disabled talent. This is an impressive statement by Mars that helps normalises disability, supported by an equally impressive commitment from Channel 4 to encourage its suppliers to hold their content to higher standards. More like this please.
(3) Sparring on Self-Control
A new fantasy card battling game that responds to players’ emotions and rewards them accordingly will launch later this month via a crowdfunding campaign. Champions of the Shengha is the first title from new social venture BfB Labs which aims to bring Emotionally Responsive Gaming (ERG) to the masses. An ear clip monitor worn during gameplay measures users’ emotional state by tracking their heart rate variability, and challenges them to defeat opponents using a combination of strategy and self control. Through regular play, users master skills of emotional control that will improve their capacity to deal with stress, anxiety and frustration. BfB Labs’ overarching aim is to tackle the prevalence of mental health problems. Half of common mental health disorders in the UK start by the age of 14 and ultimately affect 1 in 4 people at some point in their lives. By helping young people acquire skills to regulate their emotions, Shengha helps protect against the development of mental health problems, and does so by taking the learning to the gaming worlds where young people already feel comfortable and engaged. Our founder Giles chairs the board of Shift, the Foundation that created BfB Labs, and we’re excited about Shengha's potential. Look out for more information from us on the crowdfunding campaign closer to its launch, but if you have any questions in the meantime do reach out by replying to this email.
(4) Moo-Free Milk
A San Francisco startup has created animal-free cow's milk. Perfect Day claims to have created a product identical in taste and nutritional value to cow's milk but without the udders. The company believes that it will be a revelation for consumers who love to eat dairy ice-cream, cheese and yogurt but oppose factory style farming and its environmental footprint. Although sales of milk alternatives such as soy and coconut are expected to be worth more than $10bn by 2019, the alternatives for yogurt, cheese and ice-cream aren't faring so well. The animal-free cow's milk has been made by inserting cow DNA — which is readily available thanks to decades of research by the dairy industry - into yeast and adding sugar to create milk proteins through fermentation. These milk proteins are then combined with sugar, fats and nutrients to create the final product. Given that no udders were milked in the making of the product, however, the US FDA says the startup will have to find an alternative name to 'milk'. Somewhat surprisingly, the startup has been in talks with a number of traditional dairy companies who see it as the long-term solution to big problems such as water pollution and climate change — the world's dairy cows are responsible for just under 3% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
(5) Purrfect Switch-Up
The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (CATS) has replaced all 68 adverts in Clapham Common station with pictures of cats. The campaign — which will run for the next two weeks and was funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign — is not a clever marketing stunt by a brand, but rather a powerful statement against the barrage of advertising promoting buying things over building relationships that we regularly absorb on our commutes. The project is the first from new creative collective Glimpse, which wants to use the power of creativity for good by creating “glimpses” of a world where things are getting better. The collective is careful to maintain that it isn’t against advertising, it merely wants agencies and brands to be mindful of the power they wield and to use it to encourage positive values like empathy and tolerance in society. This is something that we can stand behind. By tapping into internet trends (for their cat focus) and real consumer desire (over 700 people backed their Kickstarter) CATS has led by example in creating a campaign for good that is talked about and shared for all the right reasons. We’re looking forward to increasing numbers of attempts by brands and major corporates to do the same.